Parents are more likely to make a grocery list, but less likely to check it twice when kids are in tow

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Corn Refiners Association
Source: Corn Refiners Association
Time-crunched parents are more likely than those without children to make grocery lists, but sticking to them can be more of a challenge if their kids tag along to the store, according to new research analysis from the Corn Refiners Association. 

A closer look at GenerationWhy, a consumer research study commissioned by CRA and completed in part by Ipsos and BuzzFeed that examines millennial shopping habits, found 45% of millennial parents shop with a grocery list compared to only 36% of non-parents.

“However, bringing kids along on shopping trips can make sticking to the list somewhat challenging,”​ as revealed by the finding that only 27% of parents adhere to their grocery lists when they shop with their children compared to 40% who do not deviate from their lists when shopping solo, according to a new ebook​ released by CRA in mid-August based on the previously released GenerationWhy study​. 

The increase in deviation likely comes from parents bending to children’s requests for specific foods or beverages, a desire to treat their children or indulge their curiosity about something new or simply from being distracted while walking the store aisles.

No matter the reason, most parents likely would agree that shopping without their children is easier, but as the ebook points out: “grocery chopping alone is a luxury not everyone can afford.”

Indeed, 31% of millennial parents regularly bring their children grocery shopping and are more likely to do so if they have lower incomes, according to the study.

For example, 35% of parents categorized as “Traditionalist Taylor,”​ who is more concerned with how food tastes and what it costs than trying new things, and 40% of parents categorized as “Food Purist Paige,”​ who are heavily focused on clean eating and living households earning less than $50,000 annually, bring their kids to the grocery store with them. This is compared to only 23% of parents in the “Balance-Seeker Brad”​ category who make the most annual income of all the four millennial groups in the study.

But leaving the kids at home actually doesn’t help all parents stick to their lists. For example, the study found, only 36% of parents in Brad’s group follow their grocery list when shopping solo compared to 41% who do so when the kids are in tow. Alternatively, 57% of parents in Paige’s group follow their lists when shopping alone compared to 28% when shopping with their youngsters.

The researchers hypothesize this “contrast”​ is an indicator of the unique attitudes each shopper segment brings to the grocery store.

“Perhaps Brad – the highest-earning segment and the segment most apt to refer to himself as a ‘foodie’ – enjoys browsing grocery aisles and indulging his impulses when alone, but tries to stay focused when his children are in tow,”​ the study suggests.

Different approaches to teaching children about food

Who sticks to their grocery list and when is not the only difference between millennial parents’ shopping habits. Rather, the four different segments identified in the GenerationWhy report also differ in their approach to instilling food values in their children.

For example, parents in Brad’s group are much more likely to use grocery shopping as an opportunity to talk with their children about nutrition than those in Paige’s group at 46% compared to 16%, according to the study.

“Motivated more by opportunity than anxiety, Brad embraces the experience of grocery shopping as a ‘teachable moment’ in his children’s lives,”​ the study explains, adding, “Paige, on the other hand, besieged by food fears, fails to engage her kids in a concerned conversation.”

Other key takeaways

The analysis of millennial parents’ shopping strategies also reveals that parents are more likely than non-parents to consider “good value” ​ for the price when making purchase decisions at 42% versus 37%.

Taste, on the other hand, is equally important to parents and non-parents when making purchases at 46% versus 47%.

In addition, Traditionalist Taylor parents are more likely to read the Nutrition Facts panel than those without kids, and Bon Vivant Brittany parents are more likely to enjoy cooking at home than those without kids, according to the study. 

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