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New study points to tactics for retailers to reach Millennials

Generation Y seeks experiences, everything digital

Supermarkets that are able to provide a shopping experience and robust digital offerings will likely win with Millennials, according to responses to the latest “The Why? Behind the Buy” report from Acosta.

The typical grocery store, especially center store, is the same as it’s been since the 1960s, according to Acosta Senior VP Colin Stewart.

“And as I’ve talked to retailers recently, they’re all trying to figure out, how do I get shoppers into the store? How do I get them to buy more once they’re there? How do I get them to be loyal to me the retailer and come back? And I think a lot them are recognizing that the experience has a lot of do with that, especially if they want to attract Millennial shoppers,” said Stewart.

“And then they need to figure out the right way to integrate digital into all of that to make sure it’s relevant for that younger shopper group.”

One finding from “The Why? Behind the Buy” that points to Millennials’ need for an experience at the grocery store is that they prefer to shop with other people. Over three-quarters of Gen Yers shop with someone else, compared to 60% of the overall population.

“In general, Millennials are a little bit more experiential, and I think shopping with others is part of that shopping experience,” said Stewart.

Gen Yers are most often shopping with their children (41%), but also shop with a spouse or partner (38%) or other adults (29%), such as parents, friends, roommates or other relatives.

Hispanic Millennials are even more likely to shop with others, with 88% visiting the grocery store with someone else. Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder, Acosta’s director of insights, noted Hispanic Millennials use grocery shopping as “a social experience” where they can go out into the community and interact with friends and neighbors. 

Not surprisingly, Acosta’s latest research also found Millennials want digital to be a big part of the grocery shopping experience.

“When you look at the numbers, obviously Millennials outrank any other generation on just about anything to do with digital and shopping, whether that’s looking up prices, looking up product ingredients, [or] looking up reviews on products,” said Stewart. “But I think it’s really almost just an expectation of Millennials that there’s going to be some sort of way that they can use that device in their hand,” for food buying and preparation.

In markets where grocery e-commerce is available, 64% of Gen Yers said they shop online at least once a month, compared to 43% of all shoppers.

Millennials are also far more likely to have tried a meal kit delivery service. Six in 10 Gen Yers have ordered from a service like Blue Apron, HelloFresh or Plate, compared to 10% of Boomers.

According to Stewart, meal kits speak to multiple Millennial desires. Forty-five percent of Gen Y shoppers want to take cooking classes to learn how to prepare new meals and dishes. Meal kit recipes also tend to include ingredients perceived as healthy. Acosta’s research found 39.1% of items in Millennials’ shopping baskets are organic, vs. 25.5% for all shoppers.

“They can basically have the experience. They can start to learn how to cook. And they’re getting healthy products in many cases as well,” said Stewart.

Quinlan-Sacksteder added that since non-food online shopping experiences offer customization, Millennials expect that from e-grocery, believing that “I can get it my way, I can get what I want, and I can get things customized to my needs, so I should be able to do that for groceries and food too.”

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