Just How Much of Millennial Behavior Is Really Unique?

A study of shopping habits points up some differences

Author: Monica Melton

August 29, 2017

Are millennial shopping habits vastly different from previous generations, or are they behaving, more or less, as younger people always have?

A study from consulting firm L.E.K. suggests that while there are parallels and similarities with previous generations, and while certain aspects of millennial behaviors are mostly a reflection of life stage and not unique their particular generation, there are also some clear differences as well.

One of the key differences among the generations is the time spent on research ahead of purchase.

L.E.K. found that the older shoppers were, the less likely they were to do product research.

In categories such as apparel, footwear, and personal care, millennials often spend 30 minutes more on research per purchase than Gen Xers do, and nearly an hour more than baby boomers did, L.E.K. noted.

The report also argued that millennials have a different take on brand “authenticity.” For previous generations, that quality translated to “genuine, timeless products,” whereas for millennials, the quality is associated with honesty and values. “They're the first generation to demand products and brands that are associated with social good,” the study found.

That conclusion parallels the results of a March 2017 study from Toluna that found that millennials, defined by the study as ages 18 to 34 years old, were were more likely than older shoppers to change their purchasing behavior to support causes. 

Millennials were more willing pay higher prices for products, spend time researching brands to see what causes they support, and were willing to sacrifice the quality of the products in order to support a cause, more so than Gen Xers or baby boomers.