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Millennial Grocery Shoppers Favor Deals Over Brands

More than six in 10 used their smartphone to compare prices in a grocery store

November 19, 2012 | Retail & Ecommerce | Demographics | CPG

Millennials’ grocery shopping habits are a mixed bag, according to a new eMarketer report, “Millennials in Aisle 2.0: Keeping Young Supermarket Shoppers Engaged with Brands.” The weekly stock-up shopping trip is falling by the wayside as young adult consumers mix trips to farmers’ markets and specialty food stores with grocery buys at mass retailers, drug stores and, increasingly, online retailers.

Ways in Which US Millennial and Baby Boomer Grocery Shoppers Use Mobile Devices for Grocery Store Purchases, May 2012 (% of respondents in each group)

Meanwhile, the path to purchase has fragmented and brand loyalty is diminishing, creating myriad challenges for CPG brands. Shoppers are increasingly adept at using digital channels for grocery shopping, whether to speed the process, educate themselves about products, save money, or just to make the task more fun.

When trying to reach today’s millennials, a highly diverse group, defined as those ages 18 to 34, CPG brands can take advantage of this generation’s likelihood to be smartphone users and early adopters of new technology.

In grocery stores, millennials seem to be spending as much time looking at their phones as they are at the products on the shelves. According to an August study by Sprint that examined how millennial smartphone users used mobile devices at various types of retailers, 61% used their smartphones to compare prices of items while in a grocery store. Other popular activities included finding coupons (57%), accessing a shopping list (54%) and finding recipes (51%).

Millennials’ biggest priority is to save money. The lingering effects from the recession, as well as rises in the cost of food due to drought this past summer, continue to put pressure on consumers’ wallets. Millennials, many of whom are still gaining a foothold in the workforce, are especially aware of the cost of each item going into their shopping cart.

SymphonyIRI’s Q2 report found that item price was the biggest influence on brand selection for millennial shoppers, with 87% of respondents saying it played a factor in determining what brand they bought. Coupons and shopper loyalty discounts were also a deciding factor for 68% and 53% of millennial shoppers, respectively.

Influences on Brand Selection According to US Millennial Shoppers, Q2 2012 (% of respondents)

Rebecca Kane, vice president of brand management and customer-specific marketing at Ahold, said the grocer has found that “[millennials] are savvy shoppers. They get a lot of information so that they can make very smart choices, before they even get to the store.”

The full report, “Millennials in Aisle 2.0: Keeping Young Supermarket Shoppers Engaged with Brands,” also answers these key questions:

  • Are millennials that much different from other shoppers?
  • How have mobile and digital technologies affected millennials’ path to purchase?
  • How are millennials using mobile phones when grocery shopping? How are they using brand websites?
  • Can digital technologies make grocery shopping more fun?
  • Do millennials favor one digital shopping strategy over another?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Video Bumps Up Brand Health Metrics” and “Inexpensive Products Get Online Shoppers Buying in Germany.”



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