Birth rates are declining, the population is aging, and for the first time ever, five distinct generations of shoppers are in the grocery aisles, each with their own set of characteristics and attributes that influence shopping behaviors.

Research released in the 14th edition of The Why? Behind The Buy from Acosta, Jacksonville, Fla., provides insight into how each generation is changing the grocery landscape and how brands and retailers should adapt.

“Life stage dictates spending, putting Gen X on top for now, but Millennials will likely take over that spot within the next decade while Gen Z emerges as an influencer in grocery spending,” says Colin Stewart, senior vice president. “As we kick off 2018, it is vital that brands and retailers not only understand what influences each generation’s shopping habits now, but [also] how demand will change as generations move into different phases of life.”

The study includes a comprehensive breakdown of each generation with key statistics from each life stage:

Gen Z: Emerging influencers (Ages 12-21; Gen Z Shoppers Ages 18-21)

  • Not being in the working world yet, Gen Z shoppers (18-21) reported spending the least on groceries each month, averaging $269. 
  • Gen Z has never experienced life without the internet, and 42% of Gen Z shoppers indicated they use a digital grocery list. 
  • Gen Z and Millennial shoppers averaged the most grocery shopping trips each month across generations, with Gen Z making 4.5 routine grocery trips a month.

Millennials: Selective spenders (Ages 22-36)

  • Millennial shoppers spend an average of $298 monthly on groceries.
  • This generation is not yet brand loyal — 48% agreed they don’t care which brand they buy, and will switch when they find a better deal.  
  • 60% of Millennial shoppers use mobile apps for grocery coupons or discounts, significantly higher than any other generation. 
  • 46% of Millennial shoppers have children under 18 in their household. Millennial parents spend an average of over $100 more per month on groceries than Millennials without children.

Gen X: Spending big and digital adapters (Ages 37-52)

  • Gen X shoppers reported spending the most each month on groceries, averaging $380.
  • Many Gen X shoppers have embraced digital grocery tools — 70% reported redeeming a digital or mobile grocery coupon within the past month. 
  • Two-thirds of Gen X shoppers indicated they enjoy preparing new dishes, and 60% agreed they often check out new items in a grocery store. 

Boomers: Still driving change (Ages 53-71)

  • While this generation is downsizing, they still spend an average of $314 each month on groceries.
  • Boomer shoppers are brand loyal, and are buying 82% of the same brands that they bought in the prior year.  
  • These shoppers are also loyal to their grocery stores — 93% of Boomers reported shopping most often at the same grocery retailer as last year.

Silents: Spending on groceries (Ages 72+)

  • Silent shoppers reported spending an average of $287 monthly on groceries, which also reflects the highest household grocery spending per person across all of the generations.
  • This generation also spends the least amount of their total monthly food budget on eating out.
  • Silent shoppers focus on value and are big redeemers of coupons, as nine in 10 reported redeeming a paper coupon for a grocery item within the past month.