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6 Millennial Buying Trends at C-Stores & Truck Stops

Millennials have been blamed for “killing” at least 26 aspects of American life, from real estate to breakfast cereals to marriage.

This group of consumers, born between 1981 and 1996, numbers about 71 million people, just behind the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) with 74 million people.

They’re a growing part of your customer base, but the same old products and marketing methods won’t be as successful as you’d like.

In a recent survey, 16 percent of millennials said they visit a convenience store daily, which is five percentage points higher than any other generational group, according to Convenience Store News.

Millennials get credited with killing a lot of things because their buying and financial habits are different than their parents’ way of doing things.

So what do millennials want? Here’s a look at a few ways of understanding this vital group of customers.

Millennial Buying Habits at CStores

1. Convenience

One of thing millennials have supposedly killed is cooking at home, so they are big buyers of prepared foods. In the Convenience Store News survey, 61 percent of millennials said they purchased prepared food at a c-store within the past 30 days, with sandwiches, pizza and hot dogs the most popular items. They will buy both made-to-order food and prepacked/grab-and-go items just about equally. Women consumers especially look for freshness in their prepared foods, so it’s a good idea to indicate how long the food has been prepared.

2. Nostalgia

The oldest millennials are well into their 30s, but they already have a finely honed sense of nostalgia for things of their not-so-distant youth. They were the first generation to grow up with cable or satellite TV and a computer in the home. They yearn for their favorite TV shows, movies and games. Items like candy, sodas, and snacks that play to their sense of nostalgia will likely lead a millennial to grab it off the shelf. Licensed merchandise from their favorite TV shows is an excellent way to play into the next trend as well.

3. Small Indulgences

While they may be passing up big purchases like homes and new cars, millennials will spend a few extra dollars on treating themselves. Premium products like artisanal coffees and organic snacks can boost margins. Impulse items that may trigger memories of childhood should find a place at your checkout station.

4. Tech Savvy

Millennials follow their favorite retailers on social media and will use coupons and discounts from their favorite merchants. They also look to technology to remove barriers, so make it easy to pay on a mobile device, allowing them to bypass the checkout line.

5. Trendy

Millennials tend to latch onto the latest trends, particularly in food and beverage. Healthy food options, iced coffees and new beverage choices such as sparkling water and horchata will draw consumers burned out on hot dogs and other roller food choices.

6. Loyalty

Build repeat business with loyalty programs such as premium refill mugs, e-coupons and other rewards. Use data from the loyalty program to customize rewards based on consumers’ buying habits.

Millennials will make up an increasingly large slice of your customer base, so look for ways to adapt to their priorities for spending their time and money.

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