Millennials are rejecting the consumption for consumption's sake pursued by Boomers and Gen X. They want their purchases to have meaning, express something about who they are and have a "story" to tell. This is especially true in clothing. Millennials are much more open to eccentric, eclectic and off-trend clothing. Thrift stores actually give them an advantage in buying these types of clothes. Additionally, thrift store clothes come with a story about how they found the item -- it's even better if the item was handmade by a previous generation. Millennials are also attracted to the European approach of clothing -- own fewer items, but have them be high quality and timeless. Thrift stores are also a perfect fit for this need. Unlike trends of the past, we don't see in our research that Millennials will revert to the consumption cravings of their elders. Thrift stores will thrive under this sustained, genuine interest.
In my opinion, this is a fantastic merger. Both are experts in their respective fields. Both have massive customer loyalty. Both are innovating and pushing the boundaries of their shopper experiences. If Amazon had bought a struggling grocery retailer, it would look like a land grab for cheap store space. Going after Whole Foods, a premium brand in no sign of trouble indicates they are looking for a strategic partner. And sure enough, as this deal closes, we are seeing that it will mean very real change for shoppers.
Our research shows that shopper sophistication is at an all-time high and so is the pervasive expectation of "choice." In all areas of life, technology is driving a heightened level of control -- we can do everything ourselves and find out answers to all our questions. In addition, the expectation of personalization is at an all-time high -- something Amazon already offers in spades. The recent TimeTrade State of Retail 2017 Survey Report found that a high number of consumers would be willing to actually pay more for a personalized experience. Of the all-powerful Millennial respondents "nearly 70 percent said they would pay more for products or services if they had a highly personalized in-store experience." The Amazon-Whole Foods deal will fill the exacting consumer’s need for engagement, information, control and convenience.