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06/21/2021

Digital Native Generations Present the Biggest Opportunity for C-stores to Leverage Digital Offerings

Younger consumers are developing strong preferences for brands that meet their needs.

WALTHAM, Mass. — Younger generations have increased their digital engagement frequency the most in the past year, presenting the biggest opportunity for convenience stores to utilize digital offerings that cater to this growing audience, encourage more occasions and ultimately earn their long-term business, according to a new report from digital consultancy Mobiquity.

The majority of consumers surveyed in the Restaurant and Convenience Store Digital Impact Report noted an increase in mobile and online ordering as well as the utilization of curbside services in the past year. This is especially true among digital native generations, with younger customers nearly three times as likely to use mobile apps than those ages 56 and above. Because of this growing mobile usage, younger consumers are creating digital habits and developing strong preferences for brands that meet their needs, Mobiquity noted.

Along the same lines, 63 percent of consumers ages 25 to 40 will frequent a restaurant or convenience store that has digital offerings more often than ones that do not. Forty-four percent of consumers in this age group have also changed where they order food from because their usual place had subpar digital offerings. Additionally, more than 70 percent of consumers ages 18 to 55 stating that they are likely to increase how often they order from a store if their mobile app is easy to use.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Digital ordering promotes customer loyalty: When it comes to continuing to order from a particular restaurant or convenience store, 82 percent of respondents agree that having an easy-to-use website is important and 76 percent agree that an easy-to-use mobile app is crucial.
  • Customers will switch allegiance for better rewards: Fifty-two percent of respondents ages 25 to 40 changed where they order food from because another store had a better loyalty or rewards program.
  • Current apps are not quite meeting expectations: Of the consumers surveyed, 71 percent were satisfied with delivery mobile apps, such as DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats. Seventy percent were satisfied with restaurants' apps, 61 percent were satisfied with coffee shops' apps, but only 53 percent were satisfied with convenience stores' mobile offerings.
  • Contactless fueling could lead to increased c-store visits: Among the 25 to 55 age demographic, the majority of consumers would visit a particular convenience store more if it offered them the ability to fuel their car using a mobile phone (more than 50 percent) as well as if they could earn fuel discounts via a mobile rewards program (more than 70 percent).
  • Income has an impact on order frequency: Those in the lowest income bracket ($50,000 or less) are most likely to use an app to order food and be frequent users, making about 56 visits a year. That's compared to consumers who earn more than $100,000 per year who make about 36 visits in the same timeframe.

"Restaurant and convenience store customers have rapidly adopted digital tools over the last year in order to safely interact with their preferred brands," said Britt Mills, senior director, customer experience at Mobiquity. "It comes as no surprise that younger generations of customers are more comfortable using mobile apps to order food. Our Restaurant and Convenience Store Digital Impact Report revealed that these consumers have built digital habits that will remain even as restrictions ease. It's vital for restaurants and convenience stores to meet and exceed expectations when it comes to mobile apps to cement long-term consumer loyalty as competition grows."

The Restaurant and Convenience Store Digital Impact Report explores how consumers are engaging with technology in restaurants and convenience stores as well as how this engagement affects loyalty, order frequency, and in-store or in-restaurant traffic. Nearly 1,300 consumers across the U.S. ages 18 and older were surveyed.

The full Restaurant and Convenience Store Digital Impact Report is available here.

Waltham-based Mobiquity is a digital consultancy that partners with the world's leading brands to design and deliver compelling digital products and services for their customers.