Mobile is valuable tool to reach cost-conscious Millennial grocery shoppers, poll finds

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock
Millennials may have an estimated $200 billion in annual buying power, but as a group that experienced the Great Recession at an impressionable early age, most take a “practical and cost-conscious approach to buying,” new research reveals. 

“Cost consciousness is not something that is right at the top when most people describe Millennials”​ or what influences their shopping decisions, but a poll of 1,000 millennials nationwide commissioned by the mobile marketing and promotion platform Retale found 18- to 34-year-olds value cost above all else when it comes to buying groceries, said Pat Dermody, president of Retale.

Specifically, the poll, conducted between May 2-6, found 50% of Millennials said the most influential factor for determining where they buy groceries was “lower costs or opportunities to save,” ​ which beat out the availability of locally-grown or organic products (listed by 38% of respondents) and close proximity to their house or workplace, which was named by 34% of respondents.

In addition, 34% of Millennials described their grocery shopping style as “thrifty,”​ which edged out “local”​ and “foodie,”​ which captured 24% and 23% of respondents respectively.

The lingering impact of the Great Recession

While Dermody said she was surprised by how price sensitive the poll found Millennials to be, she reasoned that they likely picked up cost-conscious habits in part due to their experiences during the Great Recession in 2008.

“Plenty of Millennials lived in households where people lost their jobs or were directly impacted during the Great Recession, and they were old enough to know”​ how the loss of income impacted their daily lives then and that has stuck with them in the long-term, Dermody told FoodNavigator-USA.

This is especially true of older Millennials aged 26-34, 64% of whom said that they felt the Great Recession personally affected them, compared to only 46% of 18- to 25-year-olds who also agreed, according to the study.

Dermody also pointed to the Great Recession’s ripple effect on the availability of jobs and ability for younger people to move out of their parents’ home. And in light of those economic and societal impacts, she said it makes sense that Millennials would be price sensitive.

Responding to Millennials’ price-sensitivities in a modern age

For grocers, this means evaluating how best to communicate deals, promotions and cost-savings to Millennnials to get them in the door, Dermody said.

One way retailers have appealed to consumers’ price-sensitivities is through loyalty programs, in which 59% of Millennials surveyed said they participated – a number that climbed to 64% among older Millennials aged 26-34 years, the report found.

The majority of participating Millennials said they signed up for loyalty programs not out of a sense of fealty, but because they wanted more discounts and coupons. A much smaller portion –39% – participated to build points for future deals, according to the survey.

Another way retailers can tap into Millennials thrifty nature is by offering deals and coupons to them through their mobile device, which 52% of respondents said they use before grocery shopping to manage their trip.

Primarily, Millennial shoppers use their mobile devices to “clip mobile coupons”​ and “browse weekly ads,”​ according to the survey, which found this was the case for 43% of respondents. A much lower portion, 27%, use their mobile devices to create and manage shopping lists. Even fewer, 12%, use them for recipe inspiration or to find store locations and hours (10%), the survey found.

The big take-away for retailers and brands from this insight is that mobile is an integral part of Millennial consumers’ shopping habits, Dermody said. Indeed, the survey found 41% of Millennials would like more offers and coupons sent to their mobile device when they enter a store, 12% want to be able to scan an item on their mobile device for more information and 10% would like a mobile pay option at checkout, according to the survey. 

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