Guest Column: Millennial Touch Points

Four tools to help you capture share of the millennial wallet

Millennials, people between the ages of 16 and 34, are our country’s biggest population group at approximately 79 million strong (baby boomers are second at 76 million). The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs recently projected that by 2030, millennials will outnumber non-millennials by 22 million.

As a group, they are widely recognized for their infinity for technology. At the same time, marketers now realize millennials control close to $200 billion in annual purchasing dollars. Consequently, companies are beginning to study their consumer behavior, specifically the driving factors that influence their overall buying decisions.

I have been researching millennials over the years, and I firmly believe they are early indicators of future trends and represent tomorrow’s consumer opportunities. It’s in your best interest to learn what makes them tick. Following are key millennial traits that you should begin building touch points around.

  • Digital Natives. This group has grown up on technology and social media; it is an integral part of their lifestyle. According to Nielsen, 62% of people ages 18 to 34 own a smartphone. They are very engaged as it relates to sharing their activities, rating products or services and uploading video. Approximately 75% use a mobile device to research product details including price comparisons and getting peer affirmation--known as the “kewlness” factor. In addition, due to the recession, they have become thrifty mobile-coupon shoppers.
  • Thrill Aficionados. Millennials seek adventure and heightened experiences in everything from extreme sports to travel. As a result, they are more global when it comes to their overall food tastes. In response, operators now menu more ethnic foods as well as combinations of food like “naanwiches” and Korean barbecue tacos. Better yet, operators let them chose their own combinations, built to order (customization), in formats such as hamburger bars, ramen noodles bars, etc.
  • Planet Savers. Thanks to being taught to recycle since kindergarten, millennials grew up wanting to make the world a better place. They are socially conscious, and thus advocates of cause marketing. Their menu hot buttons include organic, sustainability standards, locally grown, fair trade and cruelty-free.
  • 24/7. Millennials on average own 2.4 devices to stay connected. Multitasking is the norm. In addition, due to all their gizmos and connectivity, they do not keep normal hours and have evolved into a wired, 24/7 generation. Their mantra: “I want it fast, and I want it now.” Accordingly, they have earned the tag GenNow. Millennials are heavy snackers (aka grazers): 35% of their meals are snacks. Their prime grazing hours are mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late night. In recognition of their new eating habits, I recommend marketing a wide selection of grab-and-go items that are relatively nutritious and contain 500 calories or less. Better yet, design hand-held items (“portafuel” food) so they can eat and multitask (i.e., text message) at the same time.

Is your operation positioned to capture its fair share of the millennial wallet? A good place to start is to discuss with your team the above-mentioned millennial touch points and develop marketing concepts that will drive your overall GenNow guest counts.

Jimmy Matorin offers more than 30 years of broad business experience. For the past 17 years, he has been the leader of SMARTKETING, an innovative marketing resource company specializing in the foodservice channel, based in Philadelphia.

He will be speaking at the Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE), June 25-27, Schaumburg, Ill., on “Mobile Millennial Marketing.” For more information, visit www.foodserviceatretail.com.