As 20-year-old Lindsey Swidergal scans the produce aisle while grocery shopping at her local Kroger, her eyes are drawn to the tomatoes and squash, the main ingredients for her vegan dinner recipe. Swidergal only has a small basket full of ingredients, while the mother in front of her has a cart full of Goldfish, meats, frozen meals and packaged veggies.
In a world of diet fads, Kardashian bodies and yoga gurus, the term “healthy-living” has been redefined. The plethora of studies on processed foods, the art of mindfulness and the importance of exercising have all wedged its way into the routine lives of one generation in particular.
Millennials define being healthy as having good eating habits (24 percent) and regular physical activity (22 percent), compared with the older generations who believe eating habits and regular physical activity is less important (12-14 percent) than not falling sick (43-46 percent), according to an Aetna study in 2014.
With this more holistic approach to the definition of healthy, millennials have acquired different shopping habits than their parents. Next time you’re at the grocery store, see if you can find these three ways millennials are differing from their baby boomer parents.
It’s no surprise to see technology as a contributing factor to millennial shopping habits. It is estimated that about 70 percent of millennials use their phones while shopping, according to U.S Grocery Shopping Trends by The Hartman group in 2016.
Whether it’s checking reviews, texting a friend or searching Pinterest, millennials are known to have a mobile device as their sidekick while they shop for groceries. Only 38 percent of baby boomers say they engage digitally while at the grocery store, according to the same study.
Swidergal is a dietetics major from Barrington, IL. Being quite attuned to her sugar intake and BMI, as per the vegan she is, she often uses her phone while grocery shopping as a way to check brands and information on ingredients.
“If I see something in the store that catches my eye, but I don’t know the brand very well, I usually look it up before buying,” she said.
Swidergal said when discovering her go-to yogurt product, she would look up reviews on each brand and examine the ingredients online. Her favorite brand is siggi’s because of the simple ingredients and small amount of sugar it contains. The aesthetic branding of siggi’s also attracts her eye when shopping, a factor Swidergal deems important.
Many grocery stores have acknowledged this digital trend, and to lure millennials, have implemented more digital-friendly aspects like, online coupons and online orders. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. online grocery shoppers expect to increase their online order frequency over the next year, according to “The Why? Behind the Buy” report from Acosta.
2. Impressed with values
Paul Read is the operations manager at Bloomingfoods, a community-owned market and deli in Bloomington, Indiana. Part of its mission is providing organic and environmentally sound products that are locally produced. As an operations manager, Read said one of its top priorities is marketing toward the millennial generation.
“As for values, a lot of millennials are geared by the values of the production instead of the value of the product,” he said. “They want to know who is producing it and where is it coming from.”
James Stewart, the brand manager at Bloomingfoods, said they are beginning to show in miles-radius the distance in how far the products are produced from the store.
“It legitimatizes our mission in bringing local, clean food to our customers,” he said.
Millennials’ interest in the values has motivated companies to market its values on the product or in advertisement directly in the store. Stewart notices this occurring in Bloomingfoods, even if the price of the preferred product is more expensive.
“A big thing is price perception,” he said. “There is a $10 cheese and a $5 cheese. The $10 one benefits co-ops and has better values tied to it than the $5 cheese. Millennials are buying that $10 cheese.”
That is what grocery stores and companies are taking note on, he said. Understanding these habits lead to better marketing efforts toward their new customer.
3. Recipe-based grocery shopping
Another way millennials tend to grocery shop is based off recipes. It is estimated that 43 percent of millennials plan their shopping trip to shop for a recipe or particular meal while 70 percent of boomers grocery shop to re-stock the pantry, according to the Food Shopping in America report by The Hartman group in 2014.
Camille Harris, a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a health-conscious millennial who studied nutrition at University of Massachusetts.
“I shop based off the meals I need for the week,” said Harris. “I plan my meals that I need to bring to work so it is easier for me.”
Harris coordinates various clinical studies at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research involves childhood obesity. While performing these studies, Harris often talks to the parents to understand the nature of the children’s poor health habits.
“I definitely see a difference in the parents I’ve worked with from the millennial generation regarding grocery shopping habits,” Harris said. “I notice they lack some skills in healthy shopping.”
Stewart said marketing the deli section is a big factor for millennial shoppers at Bloomingfoods.
“A big thing we notice for millennials and being near a college campus is how popular the deli section is,” he said. “Most millennials are buying a meal for just that night. They aren’t stocking up their pantry.”
Overall, the shift in healthy-living has been redefined more holistically much in part due to a healthier mindset for younger consumers. The desire for technology, value-based products, and convenience all reflect in their grocery shopping habits.