Key Takeaways:

  • A recent WSJ article suggests that consumers in their 20s and 30s are taking a different route than their predecessors when it comes to grocery shopping.
  • Skipping the grocery stores altogether, they’re seeking out alternatives and are spending less.
  • They’re focused on convenience and cost, and grocers are taking note. Here’s how:

Doesn’t it seem like we’re always talking about Millennials? If you had any doubt —we should be. They’re impacting everything from the workplace to grocery shopping … I’ve even made a proclamation not to use the “M” word any more because, frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing the word. That’s how important they are.

There is no denying that their impact is far-reaching. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article suggests that consumers in their 20s and 30s are taking a different route than their predecessors when it comes to grocery shopping. They’re skipping the grocery store altogether and are seeking out alternatives like online shopping, convenience stores, Amazon Fresh, and even big-box retailers like Target. And, when they do go to the store, they’re spending less.

Retailers Take Note

Retailers are taking note. Whole Foods recently launched a “cooler-than-the-grocery-store” low-cost chain called 365 by Whole Foods, which is specifically aimed at the younger demographic. Target is opening a selection of mini-stores also targeted at Gen-Y. And, of course, there’s Amazon Go, which will allow shoppers to enter a store, pick up their groceries and simply walk out —no cashiers, no payments, all done via cell phone.

Marty Siewert, senior vice president for consumer and shopper analytics at Nielsen tells the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t think we’ve seen shopping change so dramatically ever. Those things in the past that have been real drivers for grocery in terms of freshness and quality aren’t the key drivers for millennials.”

What are the drivers these days? Gen-Y is focused on convenience and cost. And, it’s understandable.

Unbelieveable Convenience: Shopping from Your Couch

I recently talked about new challenges in reverse logistics that are driven by Gen-Y’s love for “shopping from your couch.” In that piece, I mentioned a friend of mine from this generation who says it’s common to purchase 10 items, return 8 and keep 2 —since online shopping and ease of returns makes doing so seemingly easier than going to the physical store.

When you can order your groceries from sites like Amazon Fresh or have your Walmart or Safeway purchases delivered right to your front door, why take the time to get in the car, go to the store, navigate aisles, carry your bags to the house, etc.?

Retailers who focus on making grocery shopping unbelievably convenient will have success with this generation.

Affordability Takes a Front Seat

Similarly, Gen-Y’ers are bogged down by student loan debt. One study suggests that the majority of Gen-Y goes to the grocery store just 2-3 times a month and spends roughly $50-$99 per trip.  Forget buying groceries, it’s even causing them to delay major life events like getting married and buying a home.

Retailers that present affordable options and focus on providing convenience and value will do well with this group.

Wrapping Up

As this generation —and those coming up behind them— continue to shape nearly every aspect of our lives, it behooves us to take note of their habits and inclinations, and to apply those to our businesses. Whether it’s grocery shopping or fueling tech innovations in the workplace, they’re a group that should not be ignored.