From Millennials, Another Signal of Frugality

Discount retailers overindex for millennial visits

May 22, 2017

Millennial tastes have proven tough for marketers and retailers to follow, what with their rapid adoption of mobile and social platforms. But millennials' frugality is a boon to discount retailers.

According to InMarket's new "Foot Traffic Power Rankings," millennials show a distinct preference for discount options when it comes to brick-and-mortar shopping.

The rankings are based on analysis of foot traffic to physical stores, using mobile location data from January through April 2017. Rankings are determined by frequency of visits compared with the category average for each generation. 

For the general retail category, the top three brands were discount purveyors of apparel. The No. 1 brand was Ross Stores, followed by privately held Rainbow and then Burlington Stores. Bridal chain DaVinci and home-furnishing giant Ikea rounded out the list.

Food4Less and 99 Cents Stores top the list.

In the grocery category, Kroger's Food4Less chain was the No. 1 retailer among millennials, attracting that demographic 48% more often than any other age group, InMarket said. Food4Less was followed by 99 Cents Only Stores, C-Town, H-E-B and Fry's, another Kroger property.

The InMarket data aligns with a variety of recent research pointing up the millennial generation's frugality. Earlier this month, new data from market research firm IRI found that 55% of millennials said they are sacrificing to make ends meet.

"Some of this frugality is related to life stage," said eMarketer analyst Mark Dolliver, who studies demographic patterns. "And as millennials settle down and have families, they may well start spending more freely, once their spending is directed at providing for others."

eMarketer retail analyst Yory Wurmser agreed that life stage issues certainly are driving some of millennials' frugality, but that at some level the generational habits reflect new attitudes, especially regarding apparel. "There is a shift away from buying based on a label," he said.

Indeed, the IRI data found that 89% of millennials said they buy private-label brands, and 86% shop lower-priced brands, beating the total population average of 81% and 74%, respectively.

"Perhaps because of their experience with the Great Recession, millennials appear to be the 'Frugal Generation' when it comes to both retail and groceries," reported InMarket.