5 Ways to Digitally Engage Millennials

Jill Failla, Editor, Technomic


CHICAGO — Engaging millennials is key to boosting convenience-store foodservice dollars. Technomic research finds that the heaviest c-store users—those who buy food from c-stores at least once a week—skew toward the millennial generation. Consequently, understanding how to drive repeat traffic from this tech-savvy demographic is especially important to c-stores.

New data from Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics quarterly update reveals which digital amenities keep millennials coming back to foodservice locations. Here’s a look at the top five ways c-stores can digitally engage this influential demographic …

1. Online transparency

Online transparency

When consumers are deciding which foodservice establishment to visit, they often use the internet to help them make a decision. As such, offering a transparent website with food and beverage information is a benefit to operators. Seven in 10 millennials say it’s important for an operator to provide menu details on its website, and six in 10 say they want food photos as well, Technomic data shows. Above all, 76% of millennials want to see food and beverage prices on the website before they decide to visit the store.

2. Mobile capabilities

Mobile ordering

Many of these same consumers interested in online transparency want to be able to preorder food or beverage items from their mobile device. Nearly half of millennials (48%) say mobile ordering options are important to their foodservice dining decision, according to the data. Almost two-fifths of millennials (37%) also prioritize mobile payment options, which many c-store chains are rolling out. 

However, as consumer-facing mobile tech grows at c-stores, the data indicates that operators should make sure to create a seamless website-to-mobile experience. More than three-fifths of millennials (64%) say it’s very important that an operator’s website is mobile-friendly.

3. Mobile-based loyalty

Mobile loyalty

Millennials like the convenience of mobile-based loyalty and rewards programs, such as those housed on a smartphone app. Almost half of millennials (46%) say mobile-based loyalty programs are a consideration when deciding which foodservice establishment to visit, according to Technomic. In comparison, only 17% of baby boomers say the same, suggesting that many older consumers are better satisfied with traditional loyalty cards or database-lookup programs.

4. Wi-fi


It’s pretty clear that millennials love their mobile phones, and many want to be able to use them during their foodservice visit. Three-fifths of millennials (61%) say free Wi-Fi access factors into their dining decision, the data shows. Many of these respondents also likely have their laptops in mind.

5. Social media

Facebook screen

In addition to operator websites, millennials value social-media outlets for digital engagement. More than a third of millennials (35%) say social-media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are important to their dining decision, according to Technomic. To some extent, consumers are using these social sites in the same way as websites—to retrieve information—though they are also able to quickly message a brand with questions or concerns on many social sites. Some operators are even using their social-media sites to crowdsource foodservice product ideas.