Why Millennials Spend Money at Both Walmart and Apple
27th Mar 2013 Posted in: YAYA Wire 3
Why Millennials Spend Money at Both Walmart and Apple

By Megan Kamitsuka, SEO Specialist

For marketers, it can often be baffling how the fickle Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) segment spends their cold, hard cash. Admittedly, we’re pretty confusing: we’ll spend a lot more on a t-shirt from American Apparel just so we can feel like we don’t have to wear a similar looking one from Walmart. But, we’ll spend as few pennies as we can at the same super-store for off-brand products like granola bars and pasta. In short, we’re pretty strategic when it comes to saving and spending money. U.S. millennials, all 50 million of us, want to feel like we’re living in luxury while at the same time striving to pay our tuition and rent. Unpredictable as we may be, smart marketers are paying attention to us because we’re expected to spend $65 billion on packaged goods in the next decade.

We can be impulsive shoppers at times. Maybe that’s why 71% of us are more likely to be influenced by in-store kiosks when choosing brands. Forty-two percent of us take into consideration whether your store provides a fun shopping experience. But the large majority of us, 82%, look for a store with the lowest prices every day—perhaps a big indicator why Walmart is doing just fine.

Similarly, YAYAs have become a generation of do-it-yourselfers, where one out of every three YAYAs is opting for at-home beauty treatments instead of making an appointment at the salon. The reason is simple: it’s just cheaper. Brand loyalty? It’s more like price loyalty. Eighty-seven percent of millennials choose a brand based on price. This percentage shows that we are less brand-loyal than our parents—(sorry, marketers, right now we’re young and poor).

But what about that American Apparel t-shirt that costs five times as much as Hanes? Well, millennial college students spend over $780 per month on discretionary expenses. We’re still the demographic most likely to shell out for new gadgets like iPhones. The underlying reason, experts say, is linked to the fact that we grew up in insecure times—terrorist attacks, banks cheating people out of money, to list a few. We think, “who knows what will happen tomorrow, so better treat myself today.”

One other factor: social media and reality TV are putting the pressure on millennials to keep up and live just like the infamous, yet wealthy personalities on screen. The same idiom that has haunted generations before us, “keeping up with the Joneses,” is still ingrained and exacerbated by these new social technologies and entertainment.

Yes, our spending habits are a little bipolar, but we’re keeping up with a new family now, the Kardashians, and the competition began in an economic recession. What do you think? Is this the new normal? Will millennial spending habits ever become more predictable?



Ad Age

Huffington Post


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  • http://twitter.com/laurencbrewer lauren c. brewer

    I think you bring up an interesting point of brand loyalty, more like price loyalty. With most things I find this to be very true, but like you mentioned we, the YAYA generation, are very fixated on innovation and staying up with the changes of technology. The interesting question is whether or not this affects how we are marketed to once we break out of this age bracket? Will our habits stay the same?

    • Kelly Walsh

      I strongly believe that marketers are working on adapting brands to follow people through life stages and our demographic is unlike any previous generation in purchasing habits. In my last blog post, Millennials’ Personal Connections with Brands, I discussed an alternative explanation by Dr. Arnett, which he calls the “emerging adulthood” stage. In it, he discusses the importance of brands remaining consistent with the attempts to reach millennials on a personal level. Yes, I believe we are a market that is price sensitive, but also one that relates well with particular brands like Apple. Where else are you going to get an iPhone? We don’t want to settle for a lesser brand that we believe promises less in performance. That’s what the ads are saying to us: don’t settle when you can afford it. The problem is, we can’t afford it. Not in this economy.

  • http://twitter.com/clarebridget Clare Dussman

    As a millennial, I try to spend my money with companies I believe in, but sometimes my wallet won’t allow it. I try to pay the extra money to get things which are fair trade, but to do it across all avenues of my life would be too much of a financial burden.

    I think Walmart treats their employees despicably, and I hate shopping at Walmart, but my limited income makes it a necessary savings. I hope that as my income increases, I will be able to stop shopping at Walmart.

    I think Millennials shopping habits now could shed a lot of light on what products we hold more stock in. I would buy a low quality food item before a low quality technology product, because that’s what I see as more important to my life.