DALLAS -- To appeal to Gen Y, or millennial-age shoppers--those born between 1980 and 2000--7-Eleven Inc.'s holiday gift selection is heavy on pop culture, pro sports, tech and toys, gadget-y stocking stuffers, video games, DVDs and gift cards.
Comparable to big-box retailers and even online retailers, 7-Eleven's prices let customers shop easily without paying a premium for convenience, the company said. Millennials value convenience more than their Baby Boomer parents, according to "Trouble in Aisle 5," a study of grocery shopping patterns by Jefferies investment bank and AlixPartners business advisory firm. This age group is more willing to shop a variety of retail outlets rather than relying on the traditional supermarkets. That includes convenience stores, where a higher number of Gen Y shoppers purchase everyday essentials and fresh foods than boomers.
Coming of age in the recent recession, this up-and-coming purchase-power generation is also more price-sensitive than boomers. They expect value, but not at the expense of quality.
Nick Triantafellou, 29, 7-Eleven nonfoods merchandiser and a millennial himself, has worked the better part of a year to find items that appeal to this--his--generation of shoppers.
"Millennials are all about creating their own personal brand by what they buy, wear and collect," he said. "We know this age group already shops our stores and is more likely to treat themselves with an impulse buy. They won't just buy to be buying though. They are looking for something different, something that speaks to them personally and also is high quality."
7-Eleven research shows that two out of three toy-buyers in its stores fall in the millennial age range. Triantafellou sees that as reason enough to target his category to this demographic.
"Millennials have long coattails," he said. "They are the early-adopters, and the other age-groups, both younger and older, follow their lead. Look at Facebook, Spotify and iTune. It's actually not a new phenomenon, this age group is typically the trendsetter, and it's a challenge to stay on the leading edge of what's trending at any moment."
A sampling of what participating 7-Eleven stores are carrying this year includes:
- Gift Cards. Gift cards continue to top wish lists, and the National Research Federation (NRF) predicts sales to set yet another record this year. Shoppers are expected to spend an average of more than $160 on gift cards, a 4% increase over last year. Targeted to the always-connected millennial generation, 7-Eleven's selection of gift cards focuses on digital entertainment--gaming, music, video, devices--and online shopping. With the newest game consoles being snapped up this year by avid players, Xbox and Playstation gift cards are certain to be popular gifts. The gaming gift-card lineup at 7-Eleven includes Xbox, Playstation, League of Legends, MineCraft, Zynga, Steam and Nexon. Other online entertainment cards available at 7-Eleven include iTunes, Spotify, Hulu, Sony Online Entertainment and digital device cards from Google Play and Amazon Kindle. This year, the general-purpose Vanilla Visa gift card comes in a limited-edition blue and black design available exclusively at 7-Eleven stores. Purchasers can load up to $500 on the card. 7-Eleven also has designed its own card for coffee-lovers, although it can be used on anything at the store. Free gift envelopes are available with any gift-card purchase.
- Stocking Stuffers. 7-Eleven has last-minute shoppers--and gifts--covered with its pre-wrapped stocking-stuffer gifts. Priced at $7.99 for one or three for $20, these make for a convenient gift for a teacher, neighbor, or when you find yourself suddenly in need of a present for someone.Featured on a special display at participating stores, 10 different gifts are available while supplies last: 11-function pocket knife with LED light, USB micro-vacuum, six-in-one screwdriver, flashlight-lantern combo, reusable pocket hand-warmers, four-in-one extendable backscratcher, touchscreen stylus pens, wireless phone and cable organizers, wet/dry personal trimmer and a "beanbag chair" for a wireless phone.
- Hover Craft. Remote-control toys are perennial hits on Christmas morning. This year, helicopters got the nod at 7-Eleven, and the retailer is carrying three – a beginner's model for $20, a mid-range for $29.99, stunt helicopter for $59.99 and, for the serious radio-controlled R/C enthusiast, the Xtreme S-8G professional-grade version for $99.99, comparable to one retailing for more than twice that at a hobby store. The S-8G comes with a 60-day warranty and has a multi-function remote controller that allows the plane to fly forward, backward, make turns and hover.
- What Does the (Fox) Hat Say? Animal hats will keep heads and ears warm with style. "Paws" on short-arm hats ($9.99) can be tied or serve as furry earflaps, while long-arm versions ($14.99) have pockets to keep hands warm, too. Lions and tigers and many other styles are available, while supplies last. And a fox is one of the choices. For those who prefer tamer winter weather gear, select 7-Eleven stores also have scarves, beanies, caps and gloves, all priced below $6.
- Give a Jingle. 7-Eleven has a selection of prepaid phones ranging in price from $7.11 for an LG Tracfone to $64.99 for an Android smartphone. With a 3.2-inch touch-screen, the LG Android 2.3 has web capability, international texting, social networking, email, camera with zoom, video, Instant Messenger, picture-messaging and gravity sensor. Prepaid cost for unlimited text, talk and data is $50 per month, which can be paid online or at any 7-Eleven store. Regularly $19.99, the LG Tracfone ($7.11) offers 3G Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth capabilities, MP3 player and 1.3 mega-pixel camera and video recorder. Monthly fees for service cost $19.99.
- Wine Them Up. Select 7-Eleven stores have expanded their wine lists with ultra-premium and luxury varietals that have consistently scored in the 90-point range. La Crema Chardonnay, Wild Horse Pinot Noir, Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio are among the top-shelf wines, but 7-Eleven stores with alcohol beverages-sales licenses have wines to meet any budget.
- Sweet. 7-Eleven has holiday candy for all tastes. Indulgent treats include individual Snickers and Twix Santas and Reese's Christmas trees (79 cents), candy storybooks from Skittles and Starburst ($2.99), nostalgic Wrigley Gum Heritage tins ($3.99), Ghirardeli Peppermint Bark gift tin ($6.99), Ferrero Rocher Collection gift pack of hazelnut chocolates (7.99) and giant, 1-pound versions of chocolate favorites from Hershey, Reese's and York Peppermint Patties ($13.99-$14.99).
- Watch This! Play That! As a gift or just to keep the kids busy while wrapping presents, 7-Eleven carries previously viewed and used DVDs, Blu-Rays and video games at competitive prices. Look for the "Treasure Hunt" display with $2.99 DVDs and $4.99 Blu-Ray disks. At just $9.99, videogames for Nintendo DS, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 will have kids and adults busy without breaking the bank.
- Fuel for Fun. If the "Does not include Batteries" language on the box finds people unprepared, 7-Eleven stores are open 24/7 with value-priced 7-Select batteries.
7-Eleven, Dallas, operates, franchises or licenses some 10,200 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, there are close to 52,000 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries. During 2012, 7-Eleven stores generated total worldwide sales close to $84.8 billion.