Gen X Leads In Grocery Spending, But Millennial Families Are Catching Up

Although Millennials are making the shift into marriage and child-bearing later in life than the generations that preceded them, they are increasing their grocery spending significantly as they form families. Millennial parents report spending an average of $360 per month on groceries, 47% more than Millennials without children, who spend an average of $245 monthly.

These are some of the findings from the 14th Edition of The Why? Behind The Buy, an annual report on the buying patterns and behaviors of grocery shoppers from CPG-focused sales and marketing firm Acosta.

As retailers and brands look ahead toward 2025, they need to understand the shopping characteristics of Millennials, who are less brand loyal than previous generations (but more price conscious), more mobile-dependent and driven by speed and convenience.


Overall, Millennials spend less on groceries than the top-spending Gen X age group, but they are gaining on Boomers, who are seeing their household sizes shrink.

• Millennial average household size: 2.85 people; Monthly grocery spend: $298
• Gen X average household size: 2.92 people; Monthly grocery spend: $380
• Boomer average household size: 2.78 people; Monthly grocery spend: $314

“Life stage dictates spending, putting Gen X on top for now, but Millennials will likely take over that spot within the next decade,” said Colin Stewart, Senior Vice President at Acosta in a statement. “As we kick off 2018, it is vital that brands and retailers not only understand what influences each generation’s shopping habits now, but how demand will change as generations move into different phases of life.”

7 Habits Of Grocery Shopping Millennials

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennial mothers now account for 82% of U.S. births each year. Acosta data indicates that 46% of Millennial shoppers have children under 18 in their households, compared to just one-third of all U.S. shoppers.

The study uncovered seven grocery shopping habits and preferences of Millennials that should interest retailers and brands:

  1. Low brand loyalty: 48% agree, “I don’t care which brand I buy, but will switch when I find a better deal,” and 57% say they purchase more store brands to save money, as compared to 46% of total U.S. shoppers.
  2. Price savvy: 57% compare the price-per-ounce part of price tags when making a purchase decision, and 61% agree, “I select products to create more meals at the lowest total cost.”
  3. Ingredient wise: 60% usually look at a product label or packaging before buying.
  4. Need for speed: 58% agree that they try to do their shopping as quickly as possible — and they do. Millennials reported spending an average of 23.4 minutes in the store, as compared to 28.6 minutes for Gen X and 29.8 minutes for Boomers.
  5. Highly mobile:60% are using mobile apps for grocery coupons or discounts, with Ibotta(27%) and Checkout 51 (24%) among the most popular. Millennials also use mobile devices to compare prices in store (40%), for mobile shopping lists (40%), to look up health or nutrition information for products (36%) and to exchange texts with family (36%).
  6. Frequent visits: Millennials shop more often across all types of shopping trips, with 4.7 routine trips per month vs. 4.1 trips for total U.S. shoppers; 4.0 stock-up trips per month vs. 2.9 for total U.S. shoppers; 4.3 fill-in trips per month vs. 3.8 for total U.S. shoppers; and 4.2 last-minute trips per month vs. 3.5 for total U.S. shoppers.
  7. A helping hand: When Millennial moms were asked what type of help they would like from retailers or brands, they selected making healthy food choices for themselves (64%); making dinner time family time (64%); making healthy food choices for their children (59%); meal planning for the household (58%); and planning grocery lists to buy ingredients that make cost-effective meals (57%).

7 Key Characteristics Of Other Generations

While Millennials are rising, Gen X and Boomer shoppers still hold greater buying power for the moment. Gen Z, which currently tops out at age 21, is a small (7% of shoppers) but growing force. Here are seven facts from Acosta’s research that retailers and brands can keep in mind when marketing and selling to these groups:

  1. Gen X shoppers have developed brand loyalty, with 48% agreeing, “I am passionate about my favorite grocery brands.”
  2. Gen X shoppers have embraced digital grocery tools, with 70% reporting that they redeemed a digital or mobile grocery coupon within the past month.
  3. Gen X shoppers are more adventurous than the U.S. population overall, with 66% who enjoy preparing new dishes; 60% who often check out new items in the grocery store; and 59% who often try new flavors/products.
  4. Boomers are very brand loyal, with 82% buying the same brands that they bought a year ago.
  5. While only 14% of Boomers use mobile coupons, 21% use smart devices to compare prices while in stores.
  6. The Gen Z population is diverse, and 46% of Gen Z shoppers aged 18-21 are non-white, including 22% who identify as Hispanic and 4% who consider themselves multi-racial.
  7. Gen Z shoppers never knew life before the Internet, and 42% indicate that they use a digital grocery list.

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