Grocery’s Next Generation

How Millennials will change food shopping

WD Partners’ whitepaper, Grocery’s Next Generation, explores how Millennials shop in grocery stores, what they expect out of that experience, and why they are the first wave of a generational trend that will change the way we shop forever.

The latest consumer generation, known as the Millennials, is about to knock the wheels off your shopping carts. Capturing this increasingly demanding and powerful demographic of tech-savvy, experience-hungry grocery shoppers is an unprecedented challenge.

Millennials (consumers aged 18 to 30) just aren’t buying it — groceries, that is — the way their parents did. They’re hungry for something different from the traditional food shopping experience, and they’re vocal about what they want (everything) and when they want it (now). They view grocery shopping as an extension of their vivacious lifestyles, not as an exercise in pantry-stocking.

Millennials don’t demand a total store revamp, but they do expect better alignment with the way they lead their lives, with more relevant information, an intriguing product variety, and a wider range of experiences. Despite the challenge and cost of change, retailers who begin to shift their stores to mirror the expectations of Millennials’ will be better positioned to win the business and devotion of this generation and those to come.

Traditional Grocery shoppers by Generation

After conducting a nationwide survey of Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, we held in-person discussions with Millennials from Columbus, Ohio and the New York City metro area and we asked these participants to share their thoughts about revolutionary new grocery concepts based on our research findings. These designs illustrate the potential for the future of food shopping experiences as seen through the eyes of this up-and-coming generation. Their feedback, and our original research that led to this point, will be a must-read for grocery and CPG professionals.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll learn in the report…

Technology as enabler. Millennials don’t carry gadgets to be cool: Their mobile devices are everyday tools for acquiring and using information. As they shop, they want relevant information and stylish inspiration. Don’t just give them aisles of ingredients: Give them the recipes and ideas to make the most of what you sell.

Variety is the spice of shopping. Ethnic flavors, food trends, a variety of convenient food options, and convenient ancillary services all rank highly with Millennials.

Experience (and variety) matters. Millennials are shopping more at specialty stores and super centers, and less at traditional grocery stores, even if it means traveling farther to shop. They’ll still drop into the corner store for necessity, but convenience alone doesn’t breed devotion.

Forget the cart. They’re stocking up less and making more special trips for groceries than other generations. They want fast access to staples, yet still seek experience-rich shopping options.

Show and share. Despite their on-the-go attitude, Millennials are innate information seekers, willing to pause for a Thai cooking class or a tequila tasting. They’re also likely to dine at an in-store café if it feels like a destination.

Highlights of the Study

This white paper offers a portrait of Millennial personas, life stages, expectations and attitudes. It reveals how retailers that shift from a commodity approach to an experiential model will win Millennials’ attention and loyalty.

Research Methodologies


An online survey of a national sample of 2,000 participants, segmented by generation (1000 Millennials, 500 Gen X, and 500 Boomers).


A series of mini group discussions with Millennials, including their reactions to applied designs, to help us better understand the whys and hows of the quantitative findings.

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