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February 5, 2020

Generation Grocery Gap: How Millennial and Gen Z Consumers Shop for Groceries

Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2010) are two generations often lumped together in marketing circles due to their preference of technology-driven communication, fast fashion and spending habits.

However, when it comes to grocery shopping there are noticeable differences, with Millennials and Gen Zs pursuing different levels of quality in products, shopping via different channels and caring differently about brand benefits and attributes.

The key differences between these two adjacent generations require brands to effectively gear their product offerings and messaging toward each audience in different ways. It’s also important for brands to be properly and clearly displayed on the shelf to reach each of these audiences in the most effective manner. Retail Space Solutions shelving systems ensure that products are front-facing and tidy all day, thus increasing visibility and driving purchases.

Let’s dive into some ways in which Millennials and Gen Zs prepare for their store trips, browse the aisles and perceive what they buy.

Seeking Fresh

When it comes to dining, freshness is top priority. Millennials and Gen Zs place a hefty value on nutrition and healthiness of the foods and drinks they put in their bodies, according to a 2019 grocery shopping trends study conducted by The Hartman Group. The majority of Gen Zs were raised by Gen X parents, who instilled the importance of healthy eating at a young age. Both generations experienced an education system that emphasized wellness and “eating right” to be fit and healthy.

Spending Habits

In a consumer study conducted by market research firm Acosta, Gen Z shoppers reported spending an average of $269 per month on groceries. Millennial shoppers spend slightly more; this group reported spending a monthly average of $298 on groceries. The difference is likely due to more discretionary income, resulting in the ability to place more items and higher quality goods in their carts. Since many Gen Zs don’t have much, if any, discretionary income, most rely on their parents or guardians to purchase their groceries.

Coupons and Lists

Planning ahead typically results in less impulse shopping. In the Acosta study, 59 percent of Millennials and 51 percent of Gen Zs reported they create grocery lists. And everyone loves a good deal. Thirty-six percent of Millennials and 29 percent of Gen Zs use coupons, while 33 percent of Millennials and 27 percent of Gen Z check store sales advertisements to get the best bang for their buck.

Online Grocery Shopping

Both generations grew up with the internet in their home and at their fingertips, and both groups have been incredibly influential with the exponential growth of online grocery shopping. According to Statista, Millennials and Gen Zs are strong online grocery shoppers. In 2019, 44 percent of Gen Z and 45 percent of Millennial consumers only or primarily shopped for their groceries online.

Browsing Style

There are ways in which shoppers within these generations browse grocery store shelves. According to Salesfloor, Millennials typically take their time to browse for particular products across brands—more often than settling on a product and purchasing it. Similarly, according to The Balance, Gen Zs prefer stores that make products accessible and easy to test. With the proper shelving solutions in place, products are more visible. Grocery shopping becomes less of a rushed, stressful chore and more of a discovery-filled adventure for young shoppers.


At Retail Space Solutions, these consumer trends drive how we update our offerings and market to the proper audiences, no matter their generation. Catering to the needs and preferences of every major generation of grocery shoppers helps fuel innovation.