Millennial Shopping Habits

Millennial Shopping Habits

May 16, 2018
Shari Steinbach

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

Just about every industry, including grocers, are trying to identify how millennials may change traditional buying habits and ways this will affect business moving forward. Below are some interesting findings from current research on this influential generation: 

  • Millennials are adapting to shopping for groceries online and are very comfortable doing so. FMI’s 2017 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Report shows the frequency of online-only store channel shopping went from 28% in 2016 to 43% in 2017, driven mostly by millennials.
  • The USDA’s Economic Research Service found that millennials spend more of their food budgets on fish, eggs, and nuts but less on meat. They also spend more than other generations on pasta and sweets, but less on grains.
  • Millennials allocate a higher part of their grocery budget to prepared foods with convenience being very important. Sixty-two percent reported purchasing prepared deli food, carry-out, delivery or fast food within the past week according to the USDA’s report. 
  • Millennials are looking for healthier and more affordable on-the-go meal solutions. Stores like the new 365 Whole Foods Stores format, may have found the way to win with this generation by creating smaller stores for convenient shopping, healthier fresh offerings, innovative technology, and budget-friendly prices.
  • Along with healthy, fresh foods, they value organic and artisanal food, and exciting options with exotic new flavors. 
  • Transparency in the food system is important and millennials are gravitating toward ethical, honest, and sustainable food producers. A survey by Euromonitor International showed 40% of U.S. millennials look for limited or no artificial ingredients on food packages. 
  • Millennials have had unprecedented access to information thanks to the internet. They are a more informed consumer base, and this has shaped their decisions regarding health, wellness and food. Branded websites and consumer opinions posted online are the two sources of shopping recommendations they trust most, preceded only by the advice of peers (Nielsen, 2015). 
  • Although millennials are tech-savvy, they place a high value on interactions with store associates and the customer service provided. Engaged and knowledgeable store associates are very important to them.
  • Snacking, or grazing, is a big part of the millennial lifestyle and they tend to eat outside regular mealtimes more than other generations do.
  • The percentage of millennials eating at someone else’s home is greater than for older generations which could be an opportunity to market food solutions for entertaining purposes.
  • Budget considerations factor more heavily than brand loyalty which bodes well for those retailers with healthier private brand offerings