US millennials hold promise for brands

09 November 2012

NEW YORK: Young consumers in the US are developing distinct attitudes and habits in various categories, providing brand owners with a chance to build long term loyalty, a study has argued.

The Boston Consulting Group polled 4,000 people in the 16-34 year old demographic, also known as millennials, and 1,000 people aged 35 years old and above.

Among the core differences between these two groups were that younger participants were twice as likely to care about organic food products, for which they would often willingly pay a premium.

Fully 64% of millennials also regarded themselves as "experts" in the kitchen, falling to 52% elsewhere. Club, speciality and convenience stores were their favourite types of outlet for making food purchases.

More specifically, while most 16–34 year olds wanted to shop at chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Costco, some 32.7% regularly visited Walmart, revealing a gap between aspiration and actuality.

"Generally speaking, millennials still prefer branded foods and report a noticeable quality difference with brands, but economic realities and having children tend to drive store-brand purchases," the study added.

A 47% share of females within this audience also shopped for clothing at least twice a month, as did 38% of their male counterparts. These totals stood at 36% and 10% respectively for over-35 year olds.

Women in the 16-34 year old cohort held Old Navy, Forever 21, Target, Express and Aéropostale in the highest regard in this sector. Nike, American Eagle, Levi's, American Outfitters and adidas assumed this status for young men.

By contrast, brands proving more popular among the senior sample included Wrangler, Ralph Lauren, Dockers, and Lee, which face the challenge of how to "introduce their goods" to 16-34 year olds.

Similarly, 54% of male millennials favoured "fun and energising" places to shop, as did just 39% of older men. These figures reached 46% and 33% for stores where sales associates are "trendy".

The analysis also discovered that millennials eat out 3.4 times per week, compared with 2.8 times for older shoppers. Food "to go" was of particular interest with the former group.

Restaurant meals and drinks ranked above electronics, apparel, footwear, accessories and cosmetics when discussing things young consumers liked to spend money on, with Hispanic and male buyers especially keen.

While Applebee's, Chili's, The Cheesecake Factory and Olive Garden were the chains that this audience frequently attended, the most desirable options were Chipotle, Panera Bread and Pei Wei Asian Diner.

Data sourced from Boston Consulting Group; additional content by Warc staff