Deep Dive 17 minutes Premium

US Millennials and Grocery: An Aging Millennial Demographic is Creating an Older/Younger Divide

Executive Summary

In this report, we review how millennials’ shopping habits and preferences are shaping the grocery retail sector. The millennial age group spans 20 years, with the oldest members turning 39 years old in 2019. With this aging, the gap between the oldest and youngest millennials — in attitudes and behavior — is likely to be wider than ever.

  • Our data show younger millennials shop at mass merchandisers, spend on wellbeing and fitness, and try to buy consciously. We characterize millennials under 30 as frugal, fit and conscious shoppers.
  • Millennials aged 30+ are more likely than their younger peers to look for savings, shop at traditional supermarkets and buy groceries online. We characterize older millennials aged 30+ as sensible, settled and digital shoppers.
  • Millennials under 30 are the peak age group for buying groceries at mass merchandisers Walmart and Target. Older millennials tend to be the peak demographic for traditional-format supermarkets, such as Kroger and Albertsons, as well as for buying groceries online.
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also observes an age divide in millennial behaviors: It reports that millennials who entered the workforce during the 2007–09 Great Recession exhibit more frugal characteristics, such as buying more food for at-home preparation instead of food away from home.
  • The Food Marketing Institute and the Hartman Group found children in the house also affect digital behavior: Millennials with children under 18 are much more likely to use smartphones as part of their in-store grocery shopping trips than are those without children.

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