The millennial generation (born between 1980 and 1999) has always been part of a digital era in which technology is always evolving to meet the never-ending needs of consumers. Various research studies have predicted the expanding influence of millennials in consumer and entrepreneurial markets, as well as in food consumption trends.
Millennials Seek Convenience More Than Cost When Buying Food
Recent data highlights a big shift in the demands of the current generation regarding food consumption. Millennials and centennials (born as from 1996) are not really preoccupied regarding the price they pay to enjoy a nice meal. Rather, they tend to take into consideration the experience of acquiring their meal, which includes the convenience, the taste, the environment in which they’re welcomed to or the feeling they get in the restaurant.
Mobile Payments Influences Food Consumption Trends
With the fast development of mobile payments and its extensive use by this generation, we are currently witnessing the way in which they have been shaping the modern-world trends in food service and delivery. Millennials are part of a generation that moves fast and like things to be done in easier, effortless and quicker ways and this has been proven in the way that they have responded to mobile apps.
Mark Ranta, the head of Digital Banking Solutions at ACI Worldwide explains this phenomenon: “This is the generation who grew up with iPhones. The idea of doing things digitally is not foreign or learned, it’s native”. It won’t take too long for millennials to embrace a cashless system and possibly cardless method of payment in the near future.
A recent DMI research based on 2,500 dinners and quick-service restaurants shows that 35% regularly use a quick-service app, 73% use their mobile “within quick-serves” and 35% use it every time that they visit a quick-service restaurant. For consumers who have grown up along with digital technology, it is clear that they look up to their smart devices to satisfy their hunger.
Food Retailers Need to Innovate to Meet Millennial Consumer Preferences
Several fast food chain operators and restaurants have started to feel the need to respond to the expectations of this new generation by delivering a service of superior quality. Therefore food retailers will have to find innovative ways to make payment transactions more accessible, convenient and easier to millennials who form the majority of their customer base.
Do Mobile Apps Appeal to Consumers?
In an attempt to lead in the competitive food industry and market, some restaurants have already developed their own mobile apps. InfoScout conducted a study with over 77,000 customers to analyze the number of trips that millennials usually do to quick-service restaurants that have developed high-rated apps.
Moe’s Southwest Grill has had extensive success both in its app and millennial service, followed by Domino’s which is known to be a leader in providing the best mobile experience for its customers. Dennis Maloney, the chief digital officer of Domino’s explains that being “one of the first companies to have a voice interface in [their] apps” led them to become the most popular quick-service restaurant app. He also adds, “we were one of the first to do Twitter ordering. And we have a zero-click app that allows you to order without basically doing anything at all. Pizza’s fun, so these things should be, too. It’s about pushing the boundaries to create fun experiences that reinforce who we are as a brand. These should be things that move the brand forward in a big way long-term. Plus, they’re fun to work on.”
Others like Panera Bread or Five Guys had highly rated apps but weren’t really a favorite of the millennial market. For 7-Eleven and Buffalo Wild Wings, although they did have many millennial visitors, their app was considered as underperforming. Quick-service restaurants who invested in developing apps that meet their specific customer experience have had more success than those who simply built a generic ordering app.
Mobile Apps Have Benefits for Quick-Service Restaurants
Speed Food Delivery Process
Mobile apps have the ability to speed up the food delivery process, especially during peak service hours. Being able to make faster payments does not only mean faster revenue for the restaurant. It also helps customers to skip a line, get their food faster and make their overall purchase experience better.
Grow Customer Loyalty
Restaurants which embrace mobile platforms can reach out to their customer base anytime to communicate special or exclusive app-only offers and other important pieces of information to make them feel valued. Building such a direct connection helps in nurturing a long-term customer loyalty.
Reinforce Brand Image
Millennials constantly have their smartphone with them and developing a mobile app would help in reminding customers of exclusive deals. This 24/7 marketing strategy allows consumers to still interact with your brand throughout the day.
Digital tipping is a new trend that has been introduced by the Starbucks app on the iPhone more than a year ago. Users can also simply shake their phone and have a barcode scanned by the barista to complete their payment. These kind of effective apps do necessitate investment but they also bring long-term profits to the business.
The Future of Mobile Payment Usage by Millennials
Today over 80% of millennials own and use smartphones on a daily basis. It is expected that the trends that are being set by the millennial generation will continue to lead the market in the future, especially through mobile wallets or any other form of mobile payments that facilitate and ease their payment transactions. Simultaneously, it is expected that the quick-service restaurant market will become more competitive, with business owners trying to provide the best mobile apps and digital experience to achieve complete customer satisfaction.
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