Food for Thought: Wal-Mart’s “Surprising” Stance with Millennial Shoppers

Millennials favor shopping at Wal-Mart more than any other big retailer, according to a report released by InfoScout. Ad Age explored the phenomenon, with experts citing low prices, e-commerce, and convenience as key factors for the surprising turnout.

But are these factors truly that shocking? I don’t think so.

Courtesy of InfoScout

Perhaps it’s because I’m a millennial myself – and residing in the costly city of Washington, DC, delivers harsh realities on a daily basis. According to The Atlantic, “college-grad wages are growing at historically pitiful levels…the recession has forced the entire youth generation to become a collective of baristas, fast-food workers, part-time artists, and otherwise “under-employed” people.”

I used to steer clear of Wal-Mart. Customer service was practically nonexistent whenever I popped in for a quick grocery run. Every aisle was crowded with feisty shoppers and crying children. The produce section could use livelier fruits and vegetables. Nonetheless, a high cost of living forces those with lower-than-average incomes to make a few sacrifices – if you consider shopping at one grocery store over another a sacrifice. I’m fortunate to be able to feed myself at all.

The Wal-Mart I frequent on H and First St. NW (courtesy of Google Maps)

The Wal-Mart I frequent on H and First St. NW (courtesy of Google Maps)

I don’t have the option to shop for all of my groceries at Harris Teeter or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The same brand of pre-washed spinach costs twice as much at these locations, for example. At Wal-Mart, I can purchase “Cooking with Spinach” by NewStar Fresh Foods for a mere $2.98, while competitors offer the same product for $6. It doesn’t take a math wiz to figure out where to shop – unless you have the luxury to have your cake and eat it, too. Even plain Jif peanut butter costs $2 more at other stores. For those of you with uncontrollable peanut butter cravings, $2 saved are $2 earned.

I pride myself on being brand-conscious and choosing to shop at stores echoing my personal philosophies – from paying employees fair wages to treating customers with respect. You’ll see me at Starbucks sipping on iced coffee, or poking my nose in Nordstrom for a new pair of summer sandals. Sometimes, however, you have to put your “pride” on the shelf and shop where prices parallel your paycheck – and that’s an elementary concept advertisers shouldn’t find too surprising, in my opinion. Millennials are making less and less each year, and they’re smart enough to start shopping like it.

What are your thoughts?

-Jonathan Ochart

2 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Wal-Mart’s “Surprising” Stance with Millennial Shoppers

  1. Jocellyn says:

    Going in Walmart hurts my soul a little. The Walmart in my area has so many people that could be featured on a “People of Walmart” YouTube video ;) I probably go once a year & dread every minute. Really, it’s the long waits that bother me the most.

    I also live in Vermont which isn’t Walmart friendly, but I definitely shop around for food (I go to 2 different grocery stores) and definitely keep an eye on prices. Oddly enough, our local Price Chopper (think of it as a Piggly Wiggly?) sells local eggs for almost double the co-op. I’d love to get to a place where I could pick up organic, free-range, local meat without fainting at the price tag, but I probably have a few more years, so until then shop around I shall.

    Jocellyn

    • jonathanochart says:

      Jocellyn,

      Thanks for your response! You know a retailer has a unique standing with the public when it has its own customer demographic fit enough for YouTube videos. From long waits to lower prices, we have to balance what’s worth the most to us – convenience or dollars spent? It seems both of us have a few more years to figure out where to shop – fortunately, we have options (:

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