Your Most Important Foodservice Customer

A reality check on who’s driving foodservice sales

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- Get out your groans and grumbles now: The consumer group convenience-store retailers should be indulging most are millennials.

millennials convenience-store foodservice

And you should care about them not just because there are so many, but because they are already trusting, frequent c-store foodservice consumers—far more so than their elders.

Nearly seven out of 10 millennials agree that c-stores are just as capable as restaurants in offering fresh food and beverages, compared to 56% of the overall population, according to Technomic. Sixty percent of millennials report visiting fast-food restaurants less often as they purchase more food at convenience stores, compared to 49% of all consumers. 

They also overindex in every foodservice category in terms of sales, according to VideoMining. They have a bakery purchase index of 197, hot beverages 159, fountain 152, prepackaged food 152 and 169 at the roller grill. 

Technomic's data further corroborates millennials' preference toward the roller grill, with 54% stating they're likely to visit a c-store for foodservice if it has a roller grill. Compare that to the total population at 42%.

“Without spending another hour on just that, keep in tune with millennials,” said Rajeev Sharma, chief analytics officer, founder and chairman of VideoMining, State College, Pa., during his presentation at the recent CSP/Winsight C-Store Foodservice Forum.

There’s also a unique demographic within the millennial group worthy of your attention: the “Healthier Aspirer.” Based on consumer research conducted by Ruiz Foods and revealed at the forum, the Healthier Aspirer is not the most frequent convenience-store consumer, but he (and yes, it’s a he) is more willing to pay more for higher quality, healthier items, and more willing to go out of his way to get those foods. This consumer is 25 to 34 years old, skews Hispanic, spends a lot on prepared foods and is looking for healthier hot foods in particular.

Considering consumer perception is still one of the greatest hurdles toward convenience-store foodservice success, it may be in your best interest to forget aggressively courting boomers, who already have a strong opinion of your food baked into their purchasing habits. It’s millennials who see you for more than the tired old stereotypes vexing the industry.

So go ahead and coddle your millennial customers—we’re used to it.

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