Younger Millennials Outspending Older Cohorts On Food, Beverages

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Chicago — Younger millennials, born after 1990, are outspending older generations in food dollars, according to IRI, while older cohorts are more likely to be using money-saving tactics to keep food bills manageable.

“Younger millennials have been lulled by the historically low unemployment rates, which is boosting their overall confidence and loosening their wallets,” says Joan Driggs, vice-president of content and thought leadership for IRI. “At the other end of the spectrum, many baby boomers, retirees and seniors are concerned about their retirement savings due the volatile stock market this year and are watching their expenses more carefully. In recent years, millennials have been less optimistic than older consumers and were spending less. We are now seeing a role reversal that is impacting spending on edibles across the board.”

During March, younger millennials’ food spending increased more than 21 percent compared to the year prior, while edible dollar sales for retirees and seniors was down 3.8 percent during the same period, the market research company reports.

Money-saving tactics preferred by elder generations include buying private label and trying new, lower-priced brands, according to IRI. Additionally, older cohorts are more likely to buy products other than their preferred brands because the items are on sale or they have a coupon.

While seniors and boomers are exhibiting money-saving tactics more so than younger millennials, older millennials (born before 1990) have been the most persistent in their search for value as the group more frequently buys private label, tries lower-priced brands, visits multiple retailers and downloads coupons online than any other generation, IRI data reveal.

Although they are close in age, the millennial generation is fragmented, according to IRI’s Larry Levin, executive vice-president of consumer and shopper insights. He refers to older members of the cohort as “New Traditionalists.”

“First of all, they (New Traditionalists) actually hate being classified as millennials,” Levin tells Candy & Snack TODAY. “Attitudinally and emotionally, they line themselves up with gen X. They see the fact that they don’t have to be reminded where they were on 9/11 as the line in the sand versus younger millennials.”

For more insights from Levin and IRI’s Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice-president and practice leader, see the May/June issues of Candy & Snack TODAY.