Who would have thunk…..GenZ and Millennials Like the Grocery Store? (research by USC Marshall Food Industry Program reveals)

Who would have thunk…..GenZ and Millennials Like the Grocery Store? (as research provided by USC Marshall Food Industry Program reveals)

Here’s something you may not have known about Generation Z consumers: They like going to the grocery store. At the FMI-Food Industry Midwinter Conference, a big topic was how the next generation likes to procure their food. And it turns out, according to their report, that GenZ as well as Millennials, prefer shopping in the store to grocery delivery. They treat grocery shopping in-store like a social outing, even a date. It’s an opportunity to explore new kinds of foods and unfamiliar products. 

Not only that, but most of them make grocery lists on paper, like the old days. Analog they call it.

This is a big surprise to people in the industry who thought everything digital was being driven by the younger generations, with the older ones being dragged along. It turns out that Baby Boomers do the most to push digital commerce. Possibly because younger people live so much in the digital world, they are looking for more experiences IRL (in real life). And when things are to their liking, grocery shopping can be one of those experiences.

What GenZ likes about the grocery store

A lot of these trends seem surprising, considering the reports that have come out about Generation Z and the Millennials. The common belief about these younger groups is they would rather have food delivered to their homes. Or if they cook, they would prefer to use meal kits. But more than 60 percent of the group studied don’t belong to any meal kit delivery service. And while they do order out and eat at restaurants, about 70 percent of the food dollar of both groups goes to supermarkets and grocery stores and they all average about three trips a week.

In both groups, most say they like to make their own meals from scratch, with ingredients they choose themselves. Both groups use YouTube as a channel to inspire them with recipes and meal ideas, followed by other social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.

In picking their favorite store, these young generations are most concerned with value, low prices, great variety, and a selection of high-quality fresh products (meat, fruit, vegetables, etc.), store cleanliness, and convenience. About 70 percent said the opportunity to pick their own meats, seafood, and produce was the main reason they preferred shopping in the store, but they also enjoy checking out new products.

Many of these shoppers said they might be more inclined to shop online despite these preferences if it weren’t for the fact that the user experience of online shopping—having to scroll through pages of products and compile a list online—is time consuming and not a great experience. Top that off with the high prices of grocery delivery and they would prefer to skip the whole process. Though they want to do their own shopping, they do care about convenience. More than 70 percent of Gen Z and Millennials said they won’t travel more than 20 minutes to their primary grocery store.

The Food Industry report indicates the younger generation wants to have their own, autonomous and self-guided experience around clean, well-laid out store with interesting, high quality products. Interactions with other humans tend to be a detractor, rather than an attractor to the supermarket.

Personalized service not important

One thing Millennials and GenZ definitely don’t like is when the grocery store or supermarket is crowded and there are long lines. Especially for Millennials who have children, crowded grocery stores are a big negative. As anyone who has taken a toddler to a grocery store knows, that can be a trying experience, especially when the store is crowded.

And neither group really cares about personalized customer service. While friendly and interactive customer service has been considered a main reason for some stores’ success in general, only about 40 percent of respondents from the Millennial and GenerationZ groups said they cared about it.

The grocery store app young shoppers would use

Almost all respondents said they make a grocery list at least sometimes before they go to the market. But rather than using the myriad apps that keep track of what’s in the cupboard or even store apps, and more than 60 percent said they make their lists on paper. When asked what would inspire them to use a store app, though, they had several suggestions. They said they would use a grocery store app more if it:

  • gave them discounts or rewards
  • let them check product availability
  • offered an in-store locator
  • helped them keep track of previous purchases
  • let them see how crowded the store was at any given time
  • offered recipe ideas, personalized recommendations, and list management

Many of these shoppers may not be aware that a number of existing grocery store apps give discounts or special deals to regulars who use the app. But the other suggestions they made may provide keen insight for stores looking to increase their loyalty among up-and-coming consumer populations.

Prices are key at the grocery store

Low prices were the most consistently important factor to choosing a grocery store as well as a method for buying groceries. Although it’s believed these generations want everything to be personalized and digitized, their main concern is to save money while buying quality products. Many people in these generations have costly student loans and other expenses to grapple with, and saving money is fundamental. This is important for grocery retailers to keep in mind when planning for what has been a constantly and rapidly evolving market. Low prices win customers.  

Only 30 percent of these shoppers said they would consider shopping at a particular store because of a personalized experience, compared to 60 percent who said prices were the most important.

The study surveyed 3,000 shoppers aged 18-to-39.

In thinking about how to stay ahead of the trends and changes it’s smart to stay on top of what’s coming toward us in terms of younger shoppers. Making sure your prices are competitive has never been more important. For information about how to help make that happen, contact us.  

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Bruce is the founder and CEO of RW3 Technologies. Having spent more than 35 years in the consumer goods and grocer space Bruce has experienced the industry disruption first hand and understands how artificial intelligence, POS data, and mobile technology can transform a good organization into a great one.

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