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Apr 14, 2016
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NAMA OneShow Learnings: The Millennial Effect: How a Generation is Changing Unattended Retail from Food to Payments

This guest post was written by Emily F. Porro

Tech savvy millennials have been on the minds of retailers for some time, and it is this generations that is helping to drive the adoption of mobile payment technology pushing retailers towards wide-scale adoption of cashless technology solutions. Representing about a fourth of the entire population with an estimated $200 billion in annual buying power by 2017 according to a Forbes article, millennials are definitely a focus at this year’s NAMA OneShow in Chicago, particularly as industry leaders consider the group’s differentiated shopping behavior and food preferences as they begin to gain control of the purse strings at the companies where they work.

As explained by Paresh Patel, founder and CEO of PayRange, during the session “Dr. K’s What’s Trending in Vending, Micro Markets & Refreshment Services” when it comes to millennials, adopting cashless and mobile technology is critical for retailers. Millennials currently represent the largest generation in the workforce, which means operators will need to consider accepting cashless payments or face exponential decreases in sales over time. “Three hundred thousand baby boomers turn 65 every month and are being replaced in the workforce by millennials,” said Mr. Patel. “As an industry we have to capture this change and cater to this change. It’s not about demand, it’s the physical inability to make a purchase from the machine because they don’t have change.”

According to Bill Layden, partner at Foodminds, millennials are also bringing with them an entirely new set of values which will impact purchase behavior, such as food choice and a demand for sustainable products. “We’re just starting to learn about these values,” said Mr. Layden during the “Nutrition/Health/Wellness: Trends and Opportunities in 2016 and Beyond” session on Wednesday. “We have to pay attention to how they define food values, especially if we want them to be loyal food customers,” he continued. Additionally, as millennials continue to reshape the workforce, it will be more and more important to consider environmentally conscious consumers and think about how to address topics like “footprint” cost, energy usage and how to communicate shared values of sustainability.

Further, according to Mr. Layden, mistrust has led to the erosion of ‘big food’ driving changes within consumer goods as millennials look for more natural, organic and local foods. “There is an opportunity for you to expand working with different foods and manufacturers to blend options, and improve healthfulness of choices.”

According to a recent report by Accenture, millennials will truly come into their own by 2020, when the company projects their spending in the United States to grow to $1.4 trillion annually and represent 30 percent of total retail sales. Retailers who understand their differentiated expectations on products and services will have a greater ability to capture more of this market share, increase sales and establish meaningful long-term relationships with this powerful, new generation of purchasers.

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Emily F. Porro is a writer and blogger focusing on people, products, services and technology driving global innovation across industries.

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