grocery shopping
Portrait of cheerful senior couple grocery shopping in supermarket pulling shopping cart together and smiling happily, copy space

For the first time in history, five generations share buying power at the grocery store: Millennials (22-36), Gen X (37-52), Baby Boomers (52-71), Silents (71+), and now, Gen Z (adults ages 18-22). Gen X holds the bulk of the influence right now, as many Gen X’ers have extra mouths to feed. But as more Millennials start families and Gen Z’ers enter the workforce, retailers need to pay attention to the buying habits that are emerging from younger generations while not alienating older, more loyal consumers.

To help retailers with the balancing act of satisfying younger, tech-savvy generations and more traditional shoppers, sales and marketing agency Acosta analyzed shopper preferences in their “The Why Behind the Buy™” study.

Spending habits

Gen X’ers are in their peak spending years – many of them are feeding families, after all. As a result, Gen X spends the most on groceries per month, averaging at about $380. On the other side of the spectrum, Gen Z’ers are much less likely to be the primary grocery shopper in their household, which is reflected in their monthly spending; they spend the least, $269.

Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Silents spend $298, $314, and $287 on groceries per month, respectively. Fun fact about Silents, though – they spend the most on groceries per person.

Technology in the grocery store

Gen Z’ers and Millennials are digital natives, so it’s only natural that they use technology to assist their grocery shopping and scoop up the latest deals. In fact, 42% of Gen Z shoppers use a digital shopping list and 60% of Millennials use mobile apps to find coupons.

Just because Gen Z doesn’t remember a life without internet doesn’t mean other generations are discounting the power of tech. Gen X shoppers are doing their fair share of tech-driven shopping as well. 70% of Gen X’ers reported using a mobile app for coupons in the last month.

Food preferences and brand loyalty

When it comes to buying brand names, Millennials will be the first to throw loyalty out the window at the first sight of a better deal. On the flipside, Gen X shoppers have the highest rate of brand loyalty, with 48% reporting they care a lot about their favorite grocery brands.

Additionally, Gen X’ers have spent more on items containing natural ingredients, and “free-from” products. Health-consciousness spans every generation, though. For example, Gen Z shoppers fill one-third of their carts up with organic food. Millennials, despite their thriftiness in the grocery store, will spend more on healthy foods from transparent brands. And Boomers? They’re looking for ways to “feel young,” as many in the age group are continuing to work well into their fifties and beyond.

Retailers and food manufacturers can take cues from all of the insights revealed in this study. Download the full report here.

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