Millennial grocery shoppers prioritize cost savings
Jun 2

Millennial grocery shoppers prioritize cost savings

Millennials may have more than $200 billion in buying power, but that doesn’t mean they’re opening their wallets for just anyone.

A poll of 1,000 millennials nationwide commissioned by the mobile marketing and promotion platform Retale found 18- to 34-year-olds value cost above all else when it comes to buying groceries.

Half of millennials polled said the most influential factor when choosing where to buy groceries is “lower costs and/or opportunities to save money.” This trumped the oft-cited stereotype that millennials fervently seek out locally-grown or organic products—just 38 percent reported they chose a store for this purpose.

Furthermore, 34 percent of millennials used the word “thrifty” to best describe their grocery store above “local” (24%) and “foodie” (23%).

The Effects of the Great Recession

It’s no secret the Great Recession left a lasting impact long after the 2009 bailouts. However, Retale found key differences in the opinions of younger millennials (18-25) and older millennials (26-34) about just how greatly it impacted them.

Older millennials felt more personally affected by the recession, with 64 percent answering “yes.” Only 46 percent of younger millennials agreed.

This doesn’t mean millennials are grocery shopping less—if anything, they’re using it as a tool to counteract expensive habits and save money. The first activity respondents were most likely to cut spending on instead was eating out (36%). Entertainment and buying clothes closely followed, with “buying groceries” cited by only 8 percent as an activity they would cut back on.

Most millennials polled make two to three trips a month to the grocery store (34%). On average, 37 percent of millennials spend between $50 and $99 each trip. About 35 percent spend between $100 and $200, with 20 percent keeping their carts below $50 each trip.

Marketing to More Than One Millennial

It makes sense for millennials to be price-sensitive in a post-recession era. But it’s important for marketers to remember millennials are not one homogenous group.

Loyalty programs are one tactic retailers have used to keep shoppers coming back—and they work for a particular reason. These programs appeal to millennials’ price sensitivities with 59 percent of respondents reporting they sign up in order to get more discounts and coupons.

However, there is a noticeable gap between younger and older millennials: just 49 percent of younger millennials are members of a loyalty program compared to 64 percent of older millennials.

Similarly, older millennials are more likely to use their mobile device before shopping (62%) than younger millennials (36%).

The most popular reason to use a mobile device before shopping? To clip mobile coupons and browse weekly ads (43%). Only 27 percent do so to create shopping lists.

Once they enter a store, older millennials also use their mobile device more while shopping (58%) compared to just 47 percent of younger millennials. Here, too, millennials are looking for coupons and price comparisons.

In order to enhance the in-store experience for millennials, prioritizing convenience through mobile-first strategies is key. 41 percent of millennials surveyed reported they’d like offers sent to their smartphones upon entering a store. Another 12 percent want the ability to scan an item on their mobile device to learn more about the product; 10 percent would like a mobile pay option at checkout.

Next Steps

It’s clear millennials prioritize cost savings. Their shopping habits are calculated and pragmatic to make their paychecks stretch farther. This is made possible through the use of mobile devices for planning and price comparisons.

But as Retale’s data demonstrates, older and younger millennials display different habits that shouldn’t be dismissed. Millennials are a product of their generation—but express it differently depending on when they were born. Retailers must consider all facets of the millennials’ generation to avoid an off-putting one-size-fits-all approach.