In his article titled “America’s First Pizza ATM Is a Hit”, Geoff Williams (2016) addresses the marketing aspect of the food business as it garners appeal across a wide variety of U.S. universities, where food is delivered from hot-spot locales such as ATM pizzas and food trucks. As of September 8, when the school bell officially tolls, ATM pizzas, food trucks and fast food outlets will be finding niches among university campuses, satisfying students who are on the lookout for affordability, accessibility and convenience. The feedback from students, reports Williams, is astounding. For example, at Xavier University, a total of 50 pizzas sold in one single day at the ATM machine as soon as the residential dining hall had closed its doors. In light of this current phenomenon, ATM pizzas and other fast-food options are expected to make big sales this coming academic year as they find their place among university campuses. Williams lists a number of attractions pertinent to fast food options held at university campuses: the university makes more money, fosters a sense of community for students, and provides students with a safe environment when pulling an all-nighter might otherwise force them to walk the city streets at night.Becoming a “trendier” option, fast food is increasingly being cooked, prepared and brought to students who subscribe to certain Millennial and GenZ generation values. Among other basic characteristics, Millennials and GenZ teenagers are known to be frugal, shop online for efficiency purposes (Schlossberg, 2016) and shy away from face-to-face interaction. In this regard, both generations rely on their cell phones and other useful modes of technology in order to communicate with friends, shop online, look up references for papers, etc. In other words, members of the Millennial and GenZ age hang onto technological means from the moment they wake up to the minute they fall asleep. Brent Green (2014) writes the following: “These generations are wired and online, all the time, and thus their most popular way of communicating through adolescence and young adulthood has been virtual.” Shelley White (2016) agrees. She writes: “Gen Zers are true digital natives who have never known life without the Internet or smartphones and get their information from myriad sources (often all at once).”As such, ATM pizza machines tap into this culturally-ingrained mentality where face-to-face communication, even with a food retailer, is considered difficult for Millennials and GenZ members to achieve or maintain. In other words, these students prefer to interact with machines than with people in ordering and paying for their food. By correlation, the immense and widening popularity of food trucks relies on word-of-mouth and cell phones to widen the business popularity. Fast food trucks, ATM pizza machines, fast food outlets—these kinds of brands are proliferating throughout the United States and particularly throughout American universities because students are constantly online, giving the virtual “thumbs-up” to food options that are neither healthy nor particularly nutritious, but that cater to specific cultural values that have come to define both generations over time.
What is the future of university food courts? Will ATM pizza machines be popping up regularly around the country in the next decade? How will cultural and societal values come to change the face of fast food retailing? Only time will tell.
- Green, B. (2014). Meetings and the Future of Face-to-Face Interaction: A Generational Perspective. Successful Meetings. http://www.successfulmeetings.com//News/Research-and-White-Papers/Meetings-and-the-Future-of-Face-to-Face-Interaction–A-Generational-Perspective/
- Schlossberg, M. (2016). Teen Generation Z is being called “millennials on steroids”, and that could be terrifying for retailers. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-vs-gen-z-2016-2/#gen-z-doesnt-shop-online-nearly-as-much-as-millennials-2
- White, S. (2016). The Generation Z effect. The Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/canadian-university-report/the-genz-effect/article26898388/
- Williams, G. (2016). America’s First ATM Pizza Is a Hit—And Part of An Expanding Menu of Food Choices at Colleges. Forbes Magazine.