Convenience is what 53% of Gen Z and 55% of millennial shoppers want most in a future grocery shopping experience, according to FMI report The Grocery Shopping Habits Of Gen Z And Millennials. The study surveyed 2,000 millennials (ages 25 to 39) and 1,000 members of Gen Z (ages 18 to 24) about their food spending and grocery shopping habits.

Most food spending is for groceries

Gen Z households spend an average of $760 for food each month, with $550 (or 72%) of the total going for groceries. Millennial households spend $874 on average each month on food, with $615 (or 70%) on groceries. These consumers use the remainder of the money on take-out and in-restaurant eating. The group that spends the most on groceries is married millennials with children. 

On average, both generations visit a grocery store three times a week — married millennials with children make the most weekly store visits. Because these married millennials go to the grocery store most often and spend the most money, the report suggests food retailers have the opportunity to target this segment to increase engagement and help make more sales.

For both generations, the most important factor in choosing a grocery store is good value. Other important considerations are low prices, high-quality fresh products, cleanliness of the store, and product selection and variety. Another frequently mentioned factor is store location — 72% of Gen Z and millennials are not willing to travel more than 20 minutes to their primary grocery store.

What about online grocery shopping?

Most Gen Z and millennials shop online only occasionally. Gen Z households spend an average of only $85 each month on online groceries (15% of total monthly grocery spending). Millennial households spend an average of $157 each month for online groceries (26% of monthly grocery spending).

Both generations have mixed feelings about online grocery shopping. In the survey, 56% of Gen Z shoppers and 46% of millennials had not purchased groceries online in the last 30 days. Some had tried online shopping but reduced or stopped after unpleasant experiences, including difficult navigation, late deliveries, damaged purchases, and out-of-stock items.

The survey also found the top reason shoppers are unlikely to buy groceries online in the future is they enjoy shopping in-store. Many shoppers want to choose their own produce, cuts of meat, seafood, etc. Most respondents (71%) rated making their own choices as their favorite part of in-store grocery shopping. Shoppers also liked the opportunity to discover new products (56%) and enjoyed the overall experience offered by in-store retailers (41%). 

However, the least favorite aspects of in-store grocery shopping were too many people, checkout taking too long, and the time required to get to the store. The report suggests retailers have an opportunity to improve the in-store shopping experience by addressing these complaints.

Even with the ambivalence about online grocery shopping, a significant minority of both generations shop online two or three times a month, meaning omnichannel is important for retailers. “The current state of omnichannel requires that grocers accommodate customers’ needs in whatever channel they prefer to shop for a given product,“ the report states. 

A few other findings from the report:

  • Both generations want greater customization in their grocery shopping experience.
  • Participation in loyalty programs increases with age and life stage:
    • Gen Z: 49%
    • Single millennials without children: 58%
    • Single millennials with children: 61%
    • Married millennials without children: 64%
    • Married millennials with children: 70%
  • Before grocery shopping, 79% of shoppers always or sometimes check for discounts in a variety of ways, including online and paper coupons, store flyers, and apps. Millennials are more likely than Gen Z shoppers to use some type of technology (store apps, online weekly circular).

Overall, the report concludes that Gen Z and millennial shoppers care about similar things when grocery shopping. First and foremost is convenience. Also important are loyalty programs, food samples, grocery store apps, an improved online shopping experience, and quality of personnel. These attributes apply both in-store and online, which indicates shoppers prefer an omnichannel experience. “Retailers that can successfully develop and implement omnichannel strategies will have an excellent opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates,” FMI notes.