7-Eleven Targets Millennial Gift-Givers & Recipients

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. stores are aiming to be the go-to place this year for shoppers armed with holiday shopping lists, specifically Millennial gift-givers and receivers.

To appeal to Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials, the Dallas-based retailer said its merchandise selection currently features pop culture, professional sports, technology and toys, gadget-y stocking stuffers, video games, DVDs and gift cards.

Millennials value convenience more than their Baby Boomer parents, according to "Trouble in Aisle 5," a study of grocery shopping patterns by investment bank Jefferies and business advisory firm AlixPartners. This age group is more willing to shop a variety of retail outlets rather than rely on the traditional supermarkets. This includes convenience stores where a higher number of Gen Y shoppers purchase everyday essentials and fresh foods than Boomers, according to 7-Eleven.

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.

"Millennials are all about creating their own personal brand by what they buy, wear and collect," said Nick Triantafellou, 29, 7-Eleven's non-foods merchandiser and a Millennial himself. "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's 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."

7-Eleven detailed some of the items available in its stores this season:

  • Gift Cards -- Gift cards continue to top wish lists, and the National Retail Federation 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-percent 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.
  • Stocking Stuffers All Wrapped Up -- 7-Eleven offers pre-wrapped stocking-stuffer gifts. Featured on a special display at participating stores, 10 different gifts are available including an 11-function pocket knife with LED light, USB micro-vacuum, 6-in-1 screwdriver, flashlight-lantern combo, reusable pocket hand-warmers, 4-in-1 extendable backscratcher, touchscreen stylus pens, wireless phone and cable organizers, wet/dry personal trimmer and a "beanbag chair" for a wireless phone. They are priced at $7.99 for one, or three for $20.
  • Hover Craft -- Remote-control toys are perennial hits on Christmas morning. This year, 7-Eleven is carrying several helicopters: a beginner's model for $20, a mid-range for $29.99, stunt helicopter for $59.99 and, for the serious enthusiast, the Xtreme S-8G professional-grade version for $99.99.
  • What Does the Fox (Hat) Say? -- Actually nothing, but these cozy 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. Selection may vary by store. 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.
  • Wine Them Up -- Select 7-Eleven stores have expanded their wine lists to include 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 its top-shelf wines.
  • Sweet! -- Overall, candy ranks No. 1 as the top snack item purchased for the holidays, according to The NPD Group's SnackTrack Holidays Christmas Profile. The holiday ranks third behind Halloween and Easter as the biggest candy-purchasing event of the year.
  • Watch This! Play That! -- 7-Eleven carries previously viewed and used DVDs, Blu-rays and video games.
  • Fuel for Fun -- 7-Eleven stores are open 24/7 with value-priced 7-Select batteries.
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