Who Needs Grocery Stores? (I Do)

The Millennials have much less brand loyalty and are more willing to engage in different distribution models to find food. This generation is not afraid to purchase food online and to look outside of the traditional grocery store to find what they want. Boomers on the other hand were more brand loyal and shopped at the grocery store for everything.

Boy, people sure like creating reports about what millennials like to buy. Today’s millennial report comes from AlixPartners, a consulting firm, which says that the future of the traditional grocery store is in danger because young consumers aren’t the one-stop shoppers our parents were. We go to grocery stores every now and then, but will also run off to farmer’s markets, specialty food stores, and will order food online. Which: Yes, I also go to the farmer’s market, and will occasionally buy cheese from a cheese shop, but most of my money is still spent at grocery stores (in my case, a mix of Zabar’s, Westside Market, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods). I think grocery stores will find a way to survive.

Photo: K. Kendall

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17 Comments / Post A Comment

cherrispryte (#19)

Aren’t one-stop-shopping grocery stores a relatively recent invention, anyway? Didn’t our grandmothers or great-grandmothers or whoever have to make separate trips to the butcher’s shop and the greengrocer and the bakery and all?

Nick (#1,548)

Grocery store lines are a significant source of melancholy and aggression for me. You’d expect it to get easier to endure and put in perspective as you get older, but they only seem to get more and more annoying.

#firstworldproblems

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

Mike, I always forget that you probably live right near me. I do most of my shopping at Westside Market, a little at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for things I can only get at those stores (chocolate snacks for my desk and kosher fresh mozzarella at TJs, bulk grains and my favorite hard cider at Whole Foods). I have yet to order groceries online- I don’t even pay for delivery from one of my local stores. I’m not making enough money for delivery fees and tips for groceries.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

@RachelG8489 I live in that neighborhood too, and am pretty much a one-stop Fairway shopper. Trader Joe’s is good for some things, but the fact that their veggies often aren’t that great and the crowds usually sends me elsewhere. Westside Market is so expensive, except for certain random items (but they do have good and cheap pre-made salads for lunch if you’re in a hurry).

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@RocketSurgeon I think I’m further up than you- Fairway is not walkable from my apartment, but the 110th St Westside Market totally is. My other walkable options are Garden of Eden (also expensive and lacking in staples) or Whole Foods. So: Westside! And at this time of year I try to buy as much produce as possible at the greenmarkets, which is surprisingly affordable.

OhMarie (#299)

Whatever, I love the Safeway. Getting something special at the farmer’s market or the specialty food store is fun, but if I just need to keep the fridge full I’m not going to a bunch of different places.

monteig (#2,100)

I used to buy everything at Pathmark, but then realized I was eating processed junk all the time. Now I shop at 4/5 different stores because I’m just more particular about what I want and at what prices. Quinoa from Costco, TP from Target, fruit & vegetables from Whole Foods and special stuff from farmer’s markets and health food stores.

lapgiraffe (#1,336)

But by shopping at so many different locations, and those shops mentioned are not exactly the same kind of “one stop shopping” stores they talk about, aren’t you proving their point, Mike? I know it’s a bit different in NYC, but that’s the whole point. People “used to” (back in the, what 1950s?) go to one, maybe two stores, that was party of the loyalty) but you’re choosing to go to at least four on a regular basis?

Having worked tangentially for a major grocery store company (who is also dealing with chapter 11 right now, so three guesses….) i’m not so sure that these major stores are going to survive, and i don’t think that it’s a bad thing. I’m fascinated (and, personally, forever irritated) at the way Trader Joes works – they keep the lowest amount of inventory possible so as to keep their overhead low and to avoid loss through waste/expiration. Same template is being used at Starbucks, the way they deliver daily just the right amount, and on some level not enough, so that they don’t have those prepared foods going to waste. These stores and companies are figuring out new ways to deal with inventory to maximize their profits and minimize their loss, and the consumer is also changing, shopping around a bit more, not even necessarily because of price but also because convenience and lack of loyalty and all that. Not to mention competition from Walmart, Target, etc. I don’t think these grocery stores will go away completely, but they are already fading and changing, and some are adapting, and others are dying….

probs (#296)

I do the farmer’s market once or twice a month, but other than that it’s all Shoppers for me, or sometimes Target or Safeway. I feel like old people are more likely to get their groceries delivered than millenials, but that’s just based on my anecdotal experiences.

probs (#296)

@probs I should specify that by “old people” I mean the elderly, not “anyone older than millenials.” That would not be a very sensible or useful definition of “old people.”

Maybe if every grocery store in DC didn’t randomly charge two or three times as much as their competitors for certain products, I would just pick one and shop there. I’m looking at you, Harris Teeter $5 loaf of not-that-good bread…

probs (#296)

@stuffisthings comparison shopping in DC is so difficult. I seriously have no frame of reference dor what most things should cost. DC grocery stores have me in some sort of superstition-inducing Skinnerian variable rate reinforcement schedule.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@stuffisthings Yep, this is super annoying. I live near a Harris Teeter, a Safeway, a Yes!, and Eastern Market. And I shop at all 4 places for different things (plus I throw in trips to the Whole Foods near my school for good measure). HT is irrationally expensive unless things are on sale, but their Fage is cheap and their cheese selection is amazing. Safeway sells the dry food my cat likes, and also canned goods. Yes! has the weird hippie-granola-crunchy shit (and bulk items like quinoa) that are staples of my diet. Eastern Market has like 8000 different kinds of sausage and, on the weekends, the juiciest fucking peaches you will ever eat. And of course, Whole Foods has everything delicious and amazing I can rarely afford.

Megano! (#124)

Really the only thing anyone needs to know about what millenials like to buy is that we like to buy what is cheapest, and are not afraid of using less conventional methods (like internet) to do so.

keightdee (#2,041)

The more interesting nugget of this report is that bit about brand loyalty. While I’ve noticed that many of my peers don’t particularly care what brand of a food product they buy, you will have a hard finding the same kind of brand egalitarianism in, say, consumer electronics. But I live in the Bay Area so YMMV.

km1312 (#213)

I am all Fresh Direct, all the time (other than occasional milk run to the grocery store or specialty purchase at the farmer’s market), because I am the Milleni-est, and the laziest.

Honestly, though, living in a neighborhood where I would have to walk several blocks to and from the grocery store, and not being able to buy anything in large amounts (because I can only take what I can carry home), I think Fresh Direct is a better deal for – I order the products I use regularly in bulk once a month or so, freeze a lot of it, and always have food on hand.

It still makes me feel like a lazy bum, though.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

The best form of grocery shopping I’ve seen is the experimental trial that Coles ran in Sydney along Parramatta Road at one of its petrol stations.
You hop on the Coles website, order what you want and pay for it there. You get a special receipt emailed to you with a key code in it and at the petrol station on your way home, open your special locker with the key code and there’s all the shopping you ordered, ready for you to load into the car and drive home.
Perfect for those who aren’t home to accept grocery deliveries during the day but still want to shop online! Not perfect for me because a) I’m a public transport commuter and b) Parramatta Road is not on my way home. :-(

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