COVID-19 Puts Younger Households’ Income at Risk, but Boomers are Also Changing Their CPG Buying Habits

August 13, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | CPG & FMCG | Customer-Centric | Demographics & Audiences | Industries | Spending Trends | Youth & Gen X

IRI Household Income At Risk from COVID Aug2020Uncertainty is a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted consumers and professionals alike. But when it comes to perceptions of financial uncertainty, the impacts have been felt differently across age groups. Boomers’ household income is among the least at risk, according to a recent report [pdf] from IRI, but that’s not to say that their shopping habits have been unaffected by the crisis.

The study notes that Boomers (defined in the report as ages 56-74) make up just less than one-quarter (22%) of the US population, but possess more than half (57%) of US household wealth – a point covered previously on MarketingCharts. In the survey of primary grocery shoppers, this generation was among the least likely to report that their income was at risk from COVID-19.

Compared to almost half (48%) of Gen Z or younger Millennials who agreed that their household income was at risk due to the pandemic, far fewer younger Boomers (29%) and older Boomers (25%) said the same. Some 45% of older Millennials agreed, as did 38% of Gen X, while just 18% of seniors/retirees said the same.

That said, not all Baby Boomers feel economically secure at this time. Some 4 in 10 younger Boomers feel downtrodden (9%) or cautious and worried (31%) about their finances as a result of COVID-19, with 38% of older Boomers feeling the same.

In any case, the economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19 is causing Boomers to change their shopping habits. Since the pandemic, one-quarter of older Boomers and 29% of younger Boomers are more likely to choose a product based on price or what’s on sale, with some buying more value-size items to save money (younger: 14%, older 17%), buying fewer treats (younger:14%, older: 11%) and switching to retailers with lower prices (younger: 14%, older: 13%).

Although nearly one-third (31%) of Boomers have taken advantage of online grocery shopping since the pandemic, the brick-and-mortar store remains a favorite among this generation. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) shopped in-store the last time they shopped for groceries, and respondents indicated plenty of reasons to do so. Some 78% prefer to pick out their own items in-store, with 44% wanting to get items immediately and 4 in 10 wanting to avoid extra service fees or delivery fees.

However, Boomers are now less willing to spend as much time in-store – 37% of older and 48% of younger Boomers report spending less time shopping post-COVID – and this is affecting their buying habits. They are discovering less in-store, with 47% of younger and 49% of older Boomers sharing that they are primarily focused on buying pre-planned, specific items. By comparison, far fewer are browsing aisles looking for unplanned options (younger: 11%, older 9%).

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Figures based on a national survey of US primary grocery shoppers, fielded May 22-24, 2020.


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