The “Millennial Generation" – loosely defined as those born from 1982 to 2000 – comprise a quarter of the country’s population and they are an increasingly important segment for C-stores for two simple reasons – convenience and price, according to chief food industry analyst at NPD Group.
To attract customers and retain them, you must begin to understand them - in a general sense.
Millennials are unlike any generation preceding them. To lump all people together into a single, homogeneous group doesn't work well because of the vast diversity. However, there are some key facets of this group that should be understood by c-store marketers.
The Millennial Generation tend to be:
- Ethnically diverse
- Preferential to customized food and beverages options that they can receive instantly
- Tech savvy – preliminarily at a mobile level
- Easy-going and are mindful of time
As a c-store operator, you have undoubtedly noticed trends come and go, sometimes at an incredible pace, but there are some constants you should understand as you work to garner a greater share-of-market from this increasingly influential group.
Below are four ways we can attract customers to your sites of the millennial generation.
Get Real and Stay Transparent
Being authentic and truthful has a strong pull with millennials. They value transparency for every product and service. For example, the health-conscious millennials would want minimally processed options with quality ingredients. To these millennials, food is fuel, and its development is just as important as its cost.
Beyond your product offering, millennials want to know you are a “good steward” to the community, the environment, and to those that work for your company. Millennials will examine your website and grow an opinion on their experience within your store. They will only revisit a business if it's positive, and they won’t be back if it isn’t.
“I Want What I Want When I Want It.”
Whether it’s work, school, social or family activities, and civic engagements, the new routine is the lack of a routine. Frequent snack times are replacing set meal times. Quick, made-to-order options are increasing in popularity as they appeal to the “quality without compromise” sentiment millennials tend to possess, as well as their desire to having it their way.
C-stores that offer more small, quick meal options, like proteins, fresh fruits, vegetables, and “clean carbs” (think whole grains/minimally process options) will likely benefit. Energy-packed, protein-enriched, and vitamin-filled drinks are also considered “quick meal” options and are often preferential to this group over traditional, bottled options.
Furthermore, providing mobile payment options is a great method for providing a fast and convenient option to millennials. It provides the mobile-obsessed an avenue to pay for gas or other products and services, quickly and easily.
The Culture Impact
Today, diversity levels of the millennial population are about 45 percent (including Hispanic, Asian, and African-America), according to Census.gov. Ethnic options should be considered more the norm than the exception now. Additionally, trends point to the ethnic population eclipsing 50 percent of the total in the not-too-distant future.
For millennials, anything new, exotic, and cultural should be viewed as a good option, as long as it adheres to the rules of being “genuine” and “quickly accessible.” Consumers love the ability to choose and have options. What better way to peak interest than to offer a product that lands as unique in the mind?
According to Techcrunch.com, the Millennial Generation is also the mobile phone generation. Many of them don’t know life without one, and it serves as a critical tool for socializing, working, and shopping.
The push and interest in mobile phones can mean many things for a c-store owner. For one, having a robust, relevant, and mobile-friendly website is an essential cost of doing business. Perhaps even implementing mobile payment friendly options on-site will turn visiting millennials into repeat customers. Even better, consider building a mobile app to offer loyalty programs and special offers.
Therefore, keeping up with the latest trends and technology will assist in providing a positive customer experience. Though emailing and texting special offers can be a great way to connect with millennials, it is even better to try to establish a relationship with your customers - especially millennials.
Staying in The Know-How
Millennials tend to be very vocal - especially when it comes to sharing information. When it comes to companies, they are more likely to divulge positive experiences with companies they like and trust. On the flipside, they’re also more empowered to share negative experiences with peers online.
For example, as mentioned above and in our previous blog, people have been engaged in the mobile app called Sit or Squat in which customers can rate a business's restroom cleanliness. This application is a great form of connecting customers who value the same bathroom standards. Additionally, the app facilitates conversations that will ultimately deter or attract new customers as well as possibly convert those newbies into repeat customers.
There's much more to learn and understand about this group, but understanding these basics may help give you some ideas on how to attract customers of this age group and retain this important market segment.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root has plenty of more insights on how your business can get connected and stay connected to your customers. In fact, the 2017 Retail Technology Conference is at Myrtle Beach and will provide retailers the opportunity to get an update about different and evolving consumers and the industry. Additionally, c-store owners can get the latest updates on the industry's best security measures for your forecourt, and soak up profitable tactics to keep your business above the competition.
To find out more, click here.