Young people, the hardest hit by recession, present a huge market opportunity and there is a chance to win their lifetime loyalty, according to Steve Murrells, CEO at The Co-operative Group.
Addressing the 2013 IGD Convention, Murrells said targeting the 9m under 24s needed a new approach.
They are a digital generation, he said. Ninety five per cent of those aged 18-24 use Facebook, 43% have a Twitter account and 89% use YouTube or YouTube accounts.
They have grown up through their smartphones, so a business without a strong digital plan is one without a plan and a future, said Murrells.
According to The Co-operative Group, young people are most likely to buy from a business with the right value set.
They are more disconnected from mainstream political processes but have faith in brands that do represent them. They are also more likely join a co-operative movement.
Murrells said The Co-operative has started to make up ground with these young people.
Last month it tied up with the NUS extra card to offer students a 10% discount at The Co-operative Food.
Murrells said the initiative had achieved “significant participation” and widened the traditional demographics of its shoppers.
The relationship with the NUS felt natural, he added. “The NUS is attracted to our ethics, values and principles,” he said.
The Co-operative Group plans to support the move with other campaigns across social media, food and non-food such as electricals.
The retailer has also recruited a Co-operative Group Youth Members Board who will share a role in shaping group-wide strategy and decisions.