CONNECT: How to get your app into the hands of millennials

| by Cherryh Cansler
CONNECT: How to get your app into the hands of millennials

Nick Kegg of The Greene Turtle answers a question posted by Kristen House, who moderated his panel at CONNECT.

Because restaurateurs and retailers spend a majority of marketing time and dollars on trying to connect with millennials, last week's CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit dedicated an hour-long session on how to get mobile apps into the hands of this younger generation that yields $1.7 trillion annually.

I was honored to be a panelist, along with The Greene Turtle’s marketing guru, Nick Kegg, and Michelle Evans, the digital consumer manager of Euromonitor International. Kristen House, of Paytronix, served as moderator and asked a variety of questions that spanned everything from what millennials want from an app and best practices in gamification to mobile payment adoption.

What attendees learned

Numbering more than 80 million, millennials will over take the Baby Boomers by the end of the year, making them the largest demographic in the country. If that’s not enough to get retailers' attention, people of all ages have adopted the“millennial mindset.” A plethora of Baby Boomers, for example, are similar to millennials in that they are often early adopters of technology and are highly informed consumers. That means business owners who cater to millennials will not only woo consumers born between 1977 and 2000, but will also grab those older folks, who act like millennials. That’s especially true when it comes to mobile payment apps, said Evans.

“When respondents in Euromonitor International’s Hyperconnectivity survey were asked about desirable in-store payment features, there was no difference between the age groups in terms of top in-store payment features,” she said. "U.S. consumers across all age groups listed the importance of an easy-to-use app, the ability to accumulate points or other rewards, the increased security that in-store mobile pay transaction may provide and the ability to track or keep a record of in-store purchases as desirable features."

Where the generations differ, however, is with concerns over security and privacy, which were much more pronounced among older generations.

"Older consumers may feel uncomfortable sharing payment information over an unprotected network, while their younger counterparts may simply be frustrated by slow website loading times,” Evans said.

Millennials keep only 20 apps?

House pointed out that on average millennials will only keep 20 apps on their phones, so the challenge is creating an app that makes the cut. Starbucks, which reported earlier this year that 18 percent of its transactions are done via mobile, has cracked the code. Many retailers assume they should copy Starbucks, but Evans said it may prove more difficult than expected.

“A perfect storm of factors led to Starbucks being crowned the mobile payments poster child,” she said. “They enjoyed immense success because it has an extremely loyal smartphone-carrying customer based that visits repeatedly—often several times a week.  Its consumer base is known for its brand loyalty, its frequency of visits and its affluent of status. The mobile platform fits well into the routine of a fast, daily spend consumer.”

Starbucks was ahead of the m-commerce curve when it came to market in early 2011, and since its clientele tends to be more sophisticated and often early adopters of technology, the chain essentially had a ready and willing base as compared with other foodservice operators.

“Even so, there are still important lessons aspiring mobile wallet providers can learn from Starbucks, and that is namely around the need to provide a value add beyond simply payments,” Evans said. They also must be as cheap, secure and easy to use as traditional payment methods to even be considered a viable payment option.

“All that being said, consumer uptake of mobile payments will be directly related to the value add received from using mobile phones in lieu of the leather wallet. Loyalty-driven mobile payment initiatives of tomorrow will be about one-on-one customer engagement,” she said.

One-on-one customer engagement is how The Greene Turtle, a 40-unit restaurant and bar headquartered in Maryland, views its millennial strategy and iwhy it launched a gamification piece to its mobile app, said Kegg. He shared The Greene Turtle has garnered success with its app  that allows a guest to register for rewards and to play games. The app features winning-streak, pick ‘em and fantasy games. Each is automated and powered by Gamescape and Paytronix, which integrates with the restaurant’s other digital channels to feature winners on TVs throughout the restaurants. 

“The redemption rate on the $10-game reward is 20 percent higher than other rewards,” Kegg said. “The game users frequent the restaurant 195 percent more often and spend 165 percent more. The app also has the leader board and game schedule.”

Instead of using a third-party app The Greene Turtle opted to build its own because it was important for branding and for the user experience.

“We are a part of our game users’ everyday life," he said. "When they click on our app and play our games, they are interacting and engaging with our brand. It also drives Greene Turtle Reward registration."

Topics: CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit, Customer Experience, Online Retailing, Social Media

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

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