A Threat To Fast-Food Is A Benefit For Our Industry

Sept. 29, 2016

As I was getting caught up on current news the other day, I came across an interesting article on Salon entitled, “Millennials’ Aversion To “Dealing With People” A Greater Threat To Fast-Food Workers Than Any Minimum Wage Hike”. It talked about a recent survey done by Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. that found that 31 percent of Millennials use the drive-thru because doing so requires the least amount of human interaction.

Think about that for a second. Nearly a third of Millennials are avoiding going into a location and ordering because they don’t want to deal with people. This fact, Salon argues, will encourage companies to further automate the fast-food purchasing process.

No doubt, you’ve already seen this in airports, grocery stores and big retailers like Target. Traditional check-out lanes are being replaced with self-checkout. And from personal experience, self-checkout lanes are generally always packed with users who prefer the automated experience.

While this movement is a threat for fast-food, it’s a benefit for our industry, both for vending and micro markets alike.

Millennials in the workplace

I think we’ve all heard the fact that Millennials are taking over the workplace. Some accounts show that by 2020 (just a little over three years away!) 40 percent of the working population will be part of the Millennial generation. This is the same generation that prefers customization, flavor variety and uniqueness in their food – many also prefer an automated purchasing experience when it comes to their food and beverages.

In fact, Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider in March that he has witnessed Millennials’ aversion to people firsthand. He said, "I've been inside restaurants where we've installed ordering kiosks ... and I've actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there's a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody."

This makes sense – at a kiosk, users can choose what they want to buy at the last second. They can personalize their order without having to worry if the person behind the counter got it right. They can upsize their orders and control their purchase themselves. This is where micro markets and vending can compete for the consumer dollar against c-stores and quick service restaurants (QSRs).

Use to your advantage

I’ve seen some amazing marketing techniques to drive consumers to a micro market location – especially campaigns that highlight the benefit a micro market has over the closest c-store or fast-food joint.  In our upcoming October issue you’ll read about an operator who has a marketing campaign called “5x5”, meaning that the market is five steps from the employee’s desk and five cents cheaper than the nearest c-store.

Using these new findings about Millennials, operators can highlight the benefits in a marketing campaign or simply use it as another tool to promote your services. (i.e. “You don’t have to go wait in line for an order – personalize your lunch here at our micro market!) OR (“In addition to increasing productivity, having an on-sight quality food option with an automated experience is actually something your younger employees will appreciate.”)

In the world of growing automation, our industry is poised to compete and succeed as long as we highlight that we offer the experience the consumer is looking for.

About the Author

Adrienne Klein | Contributing Editor

Adrienne Zimmer Klein is a freelance writer with a background in the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry. She worked at Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com from 2013 until February of 2017.