Millennial Consumer Behavior with Mobile Technology

Colleen Twomey, Dina Vees, Ashley Boehmer, and Jessica Dimulas, California Polytechnic State University

Millennial consumers’ drive to purchase goods.  The study was conducted in Germany, Czech Republic,

Austria, and France, and will be executed in the US during the fall quarter of 2018 at Cal Poly. Specifically, knowledge will be gained to determine whether or not:

  • Millennials in the US and Europe will take the time to download Apps to experience interactivity
  • Millennials in the US and Europe prefer AR over QR codes
  • Millennials in the US and Europe prefer NFC over AR
  • Interactive packaging drives a purchase
  • There are differences in Millennial behavior between the US and Europe

Background: Now, more than ever, brands are vying to capture the attention of the largest population in the US, the Millennials. Millennials are people born between 1979 and 1994, and thanks to immigration, this demographic has surpassed the baby boomers in total population in 2010. It is well known that Millennials are closely tied to their mobile devices – checking them on average 41 times a day. They use social media heavily and enjoy new experiences.  However, the link between Millennial use of mobile technology and interacting with packaged goods (in this case a beverage) to a purchase has yet to be established.

A fictitious brand of energy drinks was created with different levels of interactivity on the shrink sleeve label, as research indicates that 70% of Millennials drink energy drinks, so this is a consumer item in which they are familiar. Consumers were shown cans that had different interactive technologies associated with them: no interactivity, a QR code (that linked to a website), an NFC chip (which linked to the same web site with a video), and Augmented Reality (that showed an animated experience of the energy drink). The subjects were asked a series of survey questions to collect data to determine if any of the interactions with the packaging and mobile device would drive them to purchase, and to gauge their preference with the interactive technology.

The results of this study will have bearing on Consumer Goods Companies’ focus on interactive packaging and the relevancy to drive consumers, specifically Millennials, to a purchase.

Colleen Twomey serves as an Associate Professor of Graphic Communication in the College of Liberal Arts at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.  Colleen teaches consumer packaging, strategy, and marketing classes related to packaging and other print output industries.  Colleen had over 20 years of packaging industry experience specializing in print and plate technologies and prepress prior to joining Cal Poly.  Colleen is a frequent speaker at industry associations such as FTA (Flexographic Technical Association), TAPPI (Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industries), and FPPA (Flexographic Prepress Association).  She has published research on printed electronics in flexography and tactile packaging and perceived value. She’s delighted to be here today.