Millennials (those born between 1982-2001) are beginning to come of age, and Baby Boomers (those born between 1945-1964) are entering the next phase of their lives and spending patterns.
“Millennials clearly present significant challenges, and food makers and traditional grocery retailers need to start making changes now to address the emerging needs of this demographic group, as in many ways we’re just in the second inning of this ball game,” said Scott Mushkin, managing director and senior equity research analyst for food and drug retailing and packaged food at Jefferies.
This group appears much more open to branching out from traditional grocery stores and into other channels, such as convenience stores, club stores and mass merchandisers, for food purchases, per the report.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials over the age of 25 (the age at which income and household formation typically accelerate) will make up roughly 19% of the U.S. population by 2020, up from just over 5% in 2010. These 64 million Millennials will see a significant spending-power increase in the coming years, as the median income for those households is expected to jump to more than $45,000 from just over $28,000. In fact, the study shows that food-at-home spending by Millennials is set to jump by $50 billion annually through 2020.
David Garfield, managing director at AlixPartners and head of the firm’s consumer products practice, noted, “Convenience is king with Millennials: They expect to get what they want, when and where they want it, and they know they have options for both products and retailers. The emphasis on convenience represents a dramatic shift from Baby Boomers’ priorities, and it also presents big challenges—and opportunities—for companies in the food industry.”
This is a group much less loyal to food brand and grocery stores, and much more willing to explore different distribution channels, including online, smartphone shopping, and shopping across different brands and locations (mass merchants, club stores, drugstores, etc.).
The survey found 47% of Millennials believe brands are “extremely” or “somewhat” important in their grocery-purchasing decisions, compared to 61% of Baby Boomers. Among Millennials, 41% of total food spending is at traditional grocers, compared to 50% of Boomers’ total food spending.
At the same time, the influence of Boomers will begin to wane, as the group will represent less than 20% of the U.S. population within the next eight years. The group, as a whole, is also moving out of its peak earning years and into retirement. The report finds Boomers’ at-home food spending could drop by as much as $15 billion per year through 2020.