Zillennial Grocery Choices Show Appetite for Digital Content

Sandwiched between millennials and Generation Z are the zillennials, those born between 1991 and 1999 who have emerged as conscientious consumers. 

As PYMNTS Intelligence reveals in The Zillennial Paradox: Big Debt, Big Spending and a Conscience to Rule It All,” a report based on surveys with nearly 3,100 U.S. consumers, this sub generation displays unique financial characteristics that set it apart from other consumer segments. 

For instance, while 41% of zillennials say their household incomes exceed $100,000 per year (which may include funds from parents and partners), they are also along with millennials the generation that is most likely living paycheck to paycheck, at 77%. However, the share of zillennials who struggle to pay their bills is slightly lower than the share of millennials or Gen X who do the same, suggesting that the typical zillennial might be better at managing money than their older peers.

Data shows that zillennials tend to be socially and environmentally conscious a factor that shapes many of their shopping decisions. One-third say a business being community-owned or local is highly important to them, which is considerably more than the 26% of consumers overall who say the same. Similarly, one-third of zillennials say if a merchant’s social values mirror their own it will significantly influence whether they purchase from them, compared to 24% of consumers in general. 

Zillennials also value whether a business provides environmentally sustainable products and locally sourced goods: 43% say each factor is highly important. Zillennials are also 27% more likely than the average consumer to say local products are important, and they are 37% more likely than average to say environmentally sustainable products are highly important.

But these social and environmental concerns only go so far, because, like other consumers, zillennials need to stay on top of their bills. This likely explains why 37% of zillennials say they buy their groceries at Walmart, despite their desire for local, sustainable products. Large national and regional chains occupy second and third place, highlighting their cost-consciousness.


Yet, as exclusive data that was not included in “The Zillennial Paradox” report shows, when it comes time to go grocery shopping, well over half of zillennials take digital recommendations into consideration. 

zillennials, grocery, product discovery, recommendations

As the figure illustrates, when buying groceries, fewer than one-third of respondents did not consider common recommendations or suggestions. Meanwhile, 68% made grocery-buying decisions in part or in whole based on content — such as website ads, social media ads and influencer recommendations — they’d been exposed to in recent weeks. More than 18% said they were influenced by tailored recommendations that were also received digitally.

Low-tech tactics also work, as 38% considered recommendations from families and friends. Grocery merchants that aren’t in the family and want to connect with zillennials should take note that digital content appears to be the most effective method in reaching them.