Grocery Shopping with Gen Z - Insights on the Next Generation

Grocery Shopping with Gen Z - Insights on the Next Generation

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Here are some of the surprising, and not-so-surprising, results of the Field Agent Gen Z report.

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In a Spring 2019 report presented by market research company Field Agent, the topic of Generation Z shopping habits was investigated. For this work, a group of Gen Z shoppers aged 18-22 years as well as a representative group of forty to sixty year old participants (the approximate age of Gen Z parents) were surveyed to compare how they shop for food now – and how they predict they will be shopping in 5-10 years from now. For sake of understanding, Generation Z is comprised of those who were born from 1997 to 2012, so only the oldest of that generation have reached the age where they could be a primary shopper in their household. The report surveyed 775 Gen Z participants, all between 18-22 years of age, and from every part of the United States. Gender and race percentages were reflective of our current population, as was the case with the 1,300 forty to sixty year old participants, who were also surveyed.


MERCHANDISING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here are some of the surprising, and not-so-surprising, results of the Field Agent Gen Z report:


The Gen Z Sample. If the representative sample of Gen Z’s in the survey accurately reflect the total population of 18-22 year old Americans, here are some interesting statistics: 19% live with a spouse or a significant other…35% shop for a pet…38% still live with one or more parents/guardians…78% cook meals (vs. 95% of the 40-60 year olds)…8% are parent/guardian to one or more children…34% have their own Amazon Prime account (vs. 51% among 40-60 year olds)…and 11% shop for one or more children.


Gen Z Grocery Shopping. 30% of those surveyed are the “primary or only” grocery shopper in their household. 51% share that responsibility with someone else, but still do some of the grocery shopping. An overwhelming 48% of those who shop for groceries do so at Walmart, while only 39% of their “parents” (40-60 years of age) do so! But guess what? When asked where those Gen Z shoppers would find themselves shopping in 5-10 years, the number one answer was, again, Walmart – although at a lower (31%) percentage. Whole Foods, which didn’t make the “currently shopping” list, placed second at 11%.


Grocers with most favorable Gen Z opinions?  At the top of that list is Whole Foods, with Walmart moving to second place. The “parents” age group had higher opinions than did their Gen Z counterparts on these grocery retailers: Aldi (9% vs. 6%), Publix (9% vs. 6%), Kroger (10% vs. 7%) and, perhaps surprisingly, Trader Joe’s (10% vs. 9%).


The ways Gen Z customers purchase groceries. Great news for supermarkets…95% of Gen Z buy their groceries inside stores! That is 5% higher than their “parents”, who still generate 90% of their grocery sales inside the store. Once again, it is surprising to learn that, combined, Gen Z shoppers report only a 43% use of a wide variety of online grocery shopping approaches: smartphone apps, laptop/desktops, smart speaker, etc. where the “parent” aged shoppers combined for 100% usage of these same devices.  One Gen Z participant stated it this way: “Currently we go to the store several times a week and just get what we need at that moment instead of planning ahead and stocking up like in most households that I have experienced.”


What matters most when grocery shopping? The similarities between the two generations is striking. Five aspects of grocery shopping – PRICE, NUTRITION/DIET, CONVENIENCE, BRAND, and SOCIAL/ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT – were ranked by both Gen Z and 40-60 year old participants. Both groups ranked them in the same order: PRICE was most important, with 58% of Gen Zs rating it first compared to 52% of “parents” group. Next came NUTRITION/DIET (20% VS. 26%), CONVENIENCE (13% vs. 14%), BRAND (equal at 7%) and, lastly SOCIAL/ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT (3% vs. 2%). While, stereotypically, we might attribute values and brand loyalty to Gen Z shoppers, it appears they are governed by the same concerns as most shoppers.


What does Gen Z think about eating from a restaurant? All participants were asked to take cost, convenience, social atmosphere and all other factors into account when answering this question. 67% of Gen Z participants prefer eating at home (a meal prepared by themselves or someone else). Their “parents” came in at a 74% “stay at home” preference. And on the topic of cooking, 75% of the Gen Z survey group prefer cooking a meal completely from scratch (76% for their “parents”) , while only 25% favored cooking using an all-in-one meal kit.


In summary… the Field Agent report points out some interesting things about Gen Z shoppers:

  • They’re more alike than unlike their parents’ generation, at least at this early stage.
  • They do, however, consider themselves healthier eaters than their parents.
  • Gen Z grocery-shoppers are currently price-sensitive as well as traditional in their shopping habits (e.g. they haven’t             adopted digital grocery shopping yet)
  • But, they expect major changes to their grocery-shopping methods and priorities over the next several years.


Sounds like Gen Z shoppers just might be the ideal shoppers to encourage to shop at our stores. With a “home-cooked meal” desire, and a penchant for shopping in-store, this generation could be a perfect antidote to the “clicks and bricks” generation we currently face! Happy Selling!