Millennials aren’t just one segment

IN SUMMARY: Millennials can no longer be treated as a single generation. The millennial age group spans 20 years, with the oldest members turning 39 years old in 2019 while its youngest members are still not even 20. This generation is no longer a demographic group united by a youthful nature, meaning the gap between the oldest and youngest millennials — in attitudes and behavior — is wider than ever.

Younger millennials are the peak age group for buying groceries at mass merchandisers: More than any other age group, they are spending more on wellbeing and fitness. Younger millennials are also more conscious shoppers: They have the highest rates of buying from retailers with good environmental records. Meanwhile, these sub-30 millennials show slightly-below-average rates of shopping for groceries online.

Young woman reading information about the product on the phone

Older millennials aged 30 and above are more likely than their younger peers to look for savings such as by clipping coupons and are the peak age group for shopping at traditional supermarkets such as Kroger and Albertsons. They are also the age group showing the greatest propensity to buying groceries online, reflecting a combination of time pressure, rising income, relatively settled professional and family lives, and familiarity with digital channels (we will soon be publishing our 2019 online grocery consumer survey report which will provide further data and analysis on those shopping online).

*Incl. Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and Smith’s Food & Drug
Base: 1,813 US Internet users aged 18+ who have bought groceries in store in the past 12 months, surveyed in March 2018
Source: Coresight Research

Millennials remain a highly attractive cohort for retailers: They comprise around 22% of the US population according to the US Census Bureau and make up around 35% of the workforce according to the Pew Research Center. And their incomes are rising as they enter their peak earning years — even if they are not the highest-earning age group (which is the 45–54 age group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).Retailers will therefore continue to pursue these valuable consumers.

But, more than ever, marketers must take a nuanced approach that reflects the diversity represented by the age gap — and that does not include all the other non-age diversity factors, such as social background, ethnicity or income. The divergence in lifestyles and behaviors will be manifested across retail, from the size of shoppers’ grocery baskets to their tastes in fashion, and retailers should be ready to cater to their increasingly varied demand.

  • ounger 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.

Source: Core Insights

Millennials aren’t just one segment