What Grocery Shopping Habits Set Each Generation Apart?

Technology has changed dynamically since some adults began grocery shopping… and technology in supermarkets is only picking up steam and evolving as shoppers’ needs change and grow!

Your store likely serves customers of all ages with many different opinions on the best way to fill their pantries. So when you’re thinking about the best way to serve your shoppers, knowing more about your largest demographics can help you understand where to keep your attention.

Should you incorporate more self-checkout machines, or shift your focus to developing your store’s online ordering platform? Will your shoppers find a badger robot exciting and innovative? These are the questions many grocers are asking when integrating technology into their stores. 

While we often stereotype younger adults as technology-reliant and older adults as “old school,” nothing defines customer behavior like good old-fashioned research. Here are some numbers and preferences that define each of the four generations that make up the majority of today’s consumers. 

Grocery Shopping Habits by Generation

GEN Z (1997-2012)

We often think of Gen Z as kids. However, the oldest Gen Z-ers turn 26 in 2023 and have been active grocery shoppers for years. Behaviorally, the main statistic that sets this generation apart is that they’re the demographic that does the most grocery shopping at mass stores like Walmart. 76% reported using this retail option, a slight margin over 71% who use supermarkets. 

This generation is defined by their relationship with technology. This is represented when we look at the statistics of digital coupons and social media usage. They are the most likely to browse digital coupons while shopping in-store, and the most likely to use social media deals and coupons in their food purchasing. Moreover, shoppers in this age range are most likely to place online orders using their phones over other forms of technology like tablets, but still overwhelmingly prefer to use computers. 

MILLENNIALS (1981-1996)

“Millennials” may be one of the most stereotyped generations out there after being accused of killing countless industries over the last decade. One thing’s for sure, they’re not killing grocery stores! In fact, this generation is notably the one that most believes in-store grocery shopping experiences are important. They do, however, use at-home grocery delivery services at nearly twice the rate of Baby Boomers. 

GEN X (1965-1980)

As far as identities go, Gen X can get lost between Millennials and Baby Boomers. A great representation of this is in their grocery shopping habits. Perhaps the thing that sets Gen X’s preferences apart is their lack thereof. They don’t stand above any other generation in preference for online shopping ordering, in-store experiences, online delivery fulfillment methods, or any other notable metric. They follow the trend of sitting right between the prior and succeeding generations in their use of technology. This doesn’t mean they’re not a valuable demographic, just that they may be the easiest to please! 

BABY BOOMERS (1946-1964)

Baby Boomers have been grocery shopping for decades longer than some consumers, and have witnessed some of the largest changes in the shopping experience throughout their lifetime. However, of all generations, they assign the least importance to the in-person shopping experience. They are the demographic that does most of their food shopping at supermarkets as opposed to other retail outlets. The final thing that sets Baby Boomers apart is their online order fulfillment preferences. Notably, they are the only age group that favors curbside pickup for their online grocery orders. 

While many variables go into what makes up shopper preferences, age demographics can be a good place to start when building your customer persona. One thing is for certain, no one can give you better opinions than your customers! Incorporating technology that can show your shoppers’ data and reflect their preferences is the most effective way to decide what your best tools are. 

Get in touch with an STCR representative today, and see how we can offer you personalized tech solutions to best meet your customer demand.