Millennial Shopping Habits and Consumer Behaviour

Millennials make up approximately 22% of Canada’s population. Yet they are often misunderstood or miscategorized by marketers.

For instance, recently during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials were being slammed for flouting the rules and continuing to socialize for spring break. However, the actual demographic depicted in the media was Generation Z.

While Millennials used to be the younger generation, they are growing older. And as such, their consumer behaviour is changing and retail marketing needs to adapt.

Read on for the new Millennial guide.

Who Are Millennials?

Millennials were born between the years of 1981 and 1996. Age-wise, Millennials now range between 24 and 39 years old. It’s a big scope, with a lot of room for growth and development.

At the older end of the range, many Millennials are now parents and are shopping for not only themselves, but also for their families. Some Millennials are caregivers to older generations or living in multi-generational households.

At the younger end, Millennials have mostly graduated from school (unless pursuing continuing education) and are firmly planted in the job field. Despite being in the job market, many Millennials — especially younger ones — struggled with finances even before COVID-19 due to high student loans and rent costs.

In fact, compared to older generations, Millennials have had the least capacity to buy a home and are more likely to purchase a home later than the generations that came before them.

Why does this matter to your retail marketing? It’s important to gain a fuller picture of the Millennial consumer. They aren’t the irresponsible, avocado-toast-buying generation some have painted them as. They are the working parents, the generation trying to save to buy a house, and those who are looking for financial freedom.

According to Deloitte, Millennials are the most diverse generational cohort in U.S. history.

Understanding them means looking past pre-conceived notions to the new reality.

Millennial Shopping Habits

  • They’re willing to spend more locally 

According to a survey from RBC, Millennials are more willing than other generations to support local businesses. More than two-thirds of Millennials said they would pay more for goods and services offered through a local business.

  • They favour experiences over things. 

The rise of the “experience economy” is particularly high around Millennials, Forbes recently reported. Instead of playing board games at home, for example, Millennials might choose to go to an escape room.

65% of Millennials also reported saving money to travel — more than other generations.

For retail, this has also made way for in-store experiences, such as showrooms or events.

  • They crave convenience.

Millennials have a lot on their plates. They are often working, raising a family, still in school, focused on self-development, and more. As such, their time is limited.

Whether it’s hustle culture or by necessity to afford rent/student loan payments/etc., many millennials are working at least two jobs. They don’t have a lot of time, so they shop strategically.

This has resulted in on-the-go trends, such as meal kits, meal delivery, mobile technology, more payment options, and so forth. For example, canned tuna sales have gone down, yet tuna brand StarKist saw an increase in sales of its tuna sold in pre-packaged pouches.

But along with ease of access and speed, Millennials also want quality. They care about their health and the environment.

  • They’re more likely to pay more for sustainable products and premium health foods.

Millennials care about their health and wellness, but in a more holistic way than previous generations. They don’t necessarily focus on health for weight loss or look for diet-friendly options. Rather, they care about whole ingredients, sustainable farming practices, and the like.

USA Today reported on this trend, noting that major brands have shifted their offerings to reflect this. For instance, in 2014, Kraft Heinz Co. removed artificial preservatives from its Kraft Singles sliced cheese product.

When it comes to fashion, millennials also focus on sustainability. McKinsey reported in 2018 that globally, 66% of millennials would spend more on sustainable brands. This sentiment has grown with the COVID-19 pandemic, too, McKinsey said in its State of Fashion – Coronavirus Update report.

“The focus on sustainability will be especially prominent for Gen-Z and Millennial shoppers, whose concerns for the environment were already heightened pre-crisis,” McKinsey wrote.

“As we stated in The State of Fashion 2019 report trend ‘Getting Woke,’ consumers will make or break brands based on trust — a trend that is now further intensified.”

  • Those who are having children are spending more on their kids.

Today, more millennials who are parents also work full-time or part-time. This can lead to spending more on childcare costs, convenience items, and sticking to brands they know and trust.

Think With Google also reported that nearly 8 out of 10 millennials agree that their child is one of their best friends and 74% of millennial parents include children in household decisions.

Perhaps more than previous generations, it’s important not to pigeonhole millennials. With the vast range in age and lifestyle decisions, this generation has more differences than most.

What millennial shopping habits have you seen? Share with us on social media. Storesupport Canada is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Create a winning brand strategy for any demographic. Storesupport Canada helps brands take control at retail. Learn more by calling 1-877-421-5081 or visiting

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