NEW ORLEANS — As convenience-store operators confront the challenge of slower foot traffic and the need to differentiate their store offers, panelists at the recent Convenience Retailing University conference spoke on evolving issues of customer characteristics and home delivery.
Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industry insights for Chicago-based Technomic, led the gathering’s Marketing Insights session by talking about Gen Z “myths,” dispelling misconceptions about the growing consumer group. One myth is that the group—born between 1993 and 2006—avoids personal interaction. On the contrary, Byrne said, this demographic welcomes the interaction of restaurant or store staff, saying, “It’s a break from their digital environment.”
Here are other insights ...
An emerging subsegment of today’s foodservice shopper is millennial moms, according to Byrne of Technomic, CSP's sister data company. By 2026, 80% of millennials will be parents, with 60% of these mothers feeling their identity as a parent is central to their lives. These consumers are more interested in better-for-you eating options with a focus on their children’s nutrition, and almost half will have a child younger than 12. Other interests of this group are loyalty programs and take-out options, because they will have budgetary and time challenges.
Sara Rush Wirth, former content director for CSP sister publication Restaurant Business magazine, said third-party delivery companies are struggling, because the model of delivering meals from the restaurant to people’s homes is proving to be not very profitable. The business model may be shifting to that of selling the data derived from the ordering and delivery activity, she said.
Both Byrne and Wirth described the development of ghost kitchens. These experimental restaurant concepts can aggregate several branded foodservice offers into a single commissary, where employees make meals that drivers deliver directly to customers. The idea is to eliminate the need for investing in a full-blown retail environment.
Citing growth in the Hispanic demographic, Byrne described characteristics of this evolving consumer segment, including:
- 44% are younger than 25 years old, compared to 33% of the overall U.S. population.
- They like pizza, hot dogs and center-of-plate proteins.
- They are “group” customers, with only 28% going to a restaurant in a solo visit vs. 35% of all other consumers.
Next year’s Convenience Retailing University will be held Feb. 23-24, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Click here for more information.