Millennials’ and Gen Z’s shopping preferences are yielding greater opportunities for retailers to sell non-traditional items through unattended channels, a recent joint study by PYMNTS and USA Technologies finds. While overall, 30% of respondents said they would buy more items, and about 25% would spend more money if non-traditional items were offered through unattended channels like vending machines and kiosks, the study also found that a considerably higher number of younger respondents were driving these trends.
According to the Future of Unattended Retail Study, which queried more than 2,300 people across the US, 35% of Millennials and 29% of Generation Z would be willing to spend more if non-traditional products were offered. This compares to 26% of Generation X and 16% of Seniors and Baby Boomers. Further, of that same group, 40% of Millennials and 35% of Generation Z would most likely buy more items if non-traditional products were offered in vending machines. Generation X felt similarly with 34%, while only 19% of Seniors and Baby Boomers said they would buy more non-traditional items from vending machines. Every generation ranks Health and Beauty products highest among non-traditional products willing to be bought through vending machines and kiosks.
“Our joint report with PYMNTS underscores not only the size of the unattended channels, but the expectations of consumers that unattended retail become an everyday way of life, particularly with younger generations who are most willing to buy more and spend more when using them,” says Maeve McKenna Duska, chief marketing officer, USA Technologies. “We believe this presents a unique opportunity for retailers to not only offload high-touch tasks, such as key cutting, to kiosks which enable store employees to focus on higher-value tasks, but expand their footprint outside of the store through vending machines and kiosks, increasing opportunities for revenue while simplifying purchasing for consumers.”
Health and beauty hold greatest potential
The survey found that while food and beverage items were named as the most popular products purchased by more than half of the participants in the three-months prior to the survey, the vast majority of participants who expressed interest in buying non-traditional products via vending machines said that they would be interested in purchasing health (82%) and beauty (64%) items from a vending machine if they were to be offered today.
However, when considering generational data, 61% of Millennials and 59% of Generation Z would be willing to buy clothing and accessories through vending machines and kiosks according to the findings, with 54% of Generation X and 45% of Seniors and Baby Boomers also agreeing. Not surprisingly, older Generation X and Baby Boomer participants ranked books and magazines more highly than their counterparts, with 57% of Generation X and 58% of Seniors and Baby Boomers saying they’d purchase books from a machine, compared to 50% of Millennials and 48% of Generation Z. A significantly higher 70% of Seniors and Baby Boomers would buy magazines, compared to 58% of Generation X, 43% of Millennials, and only 32% of Generation Z.
Other significant findings of the survey include:
Reasons for use
- When considering what made respondents use unattended retail options in the recent past, speed of use was the most popular response across generations, with 33% of Generation Z, 55% of Millennials, 52% of Generation X, and 42% of Seniors and Baby Boomers ranking it a top reason.
- Not having to talk to employees ranked highly across all generations but Generation X (27%), as 41% of Generation Z, 38% of Millennials and 35% of Seniors and Baby Boomers ranked it as an important factor.
- 37% of Generation Z ranked enjoying using new technology as important, significantly higher than the 20% of Millennials, 17% of Generation X and 12% of Seniors and Baby Boomers who said the same.
- 40% of respondents noted that a key reason for unattended use was the lack of other methods for purchase.
- Overall, 34% of respondents prefer to pay by credit cards compared to 24% who prefer debit cards, with mobile payments much lower.
- For Generation Z, mobile payment options such as Google Pay (37%), and Apple Pay (23%) rank high compared to cash (21%), debit cards (16%), and credit cards (4%).
- Millennials were similarly interested in mobile payment options with 64% preferring a merchant’s mobile app, and 50% preferring Apple Pay.