When Millennials Move On: Gen X at the Grocery Store

It’s okay to admit it – you might be a little tired of hearing about Millennials.  I know I am.  It seems that every article I’ve read lately is spouting stats about the buying habits of this up-and-coming generation.

What I am more interested in, however, is what are companies doing to reach the generation that raised these youngsters who are just now coming of age and leaving the house?

I am talking about Generation X, those of us sandwiched squarely between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers.  As a card-carrying member of Gen X (those born between 1961 and 1981), I am wondering why we aren’t getting more attention.

There are certainly plenty of us out there; the Census Bureau projects that the Gen X population will peak at 65.8 million in 2018.1

Aside from our sheer number and associated buying power, it would be wise for retailers and packers to think about Gen X as the flip side of the Millennial equation:  as a result of Millennials growing up and moving on, older Gen Xers  are experiencing major life changes that impact how we shop for and prepare meat.

Although I am a brand-new empty nester (I just dropped my daughter off at college last week – sniff, sniff), I can already tell that grocery shopping is going to be a whole new ball game.  And I am ready to embrace it!

When my children were home, I made it a priority to put a decent meal on the table every night.  Protein figured pretty prominently in my dinner lineup:  steaks, roasts, ground beef, chicken, and pork tenderloins.  I bought lots of family packs and was a frequent freezer.

Now that the kids are gone, I don’t feel that obligation to be “Super Mom” every night.  The evening meal, thankfully, has become a much more casual affair.  I text my husband in the afternoon and confirm he’ll be home for dinner, and I pop in the grocery store.  The cart has been replaced with a handled basket, and I am now picking up meat packages with a pair of steaks to throw on the grill that night, versus mega packs for multiple meals throughout the week.  I was really excited the other day when my local grocery store had smaller rotisserie chickens in little bags alongside the standard-size birds in the plastic containers — perfect for just the two of us.  (Our dog was disappointed there weren’t any leftovers.)

My thinking is this:  since I don’t have to cook anymore (my husband is perfectly okay eating cereal in front of ESPN), when I do cook, it needs to be fast and fresh.  Since there are many nights we don’t even know if we’ll be home for dinner (we might go to the gym or catch a movie on the spur of the moment), I need protein  options that are convenient for that game-time decision, like pre-marinated pork tenderloins and grill-ready steaks.  Lots of older Gen Xers like me are experiencing new-found freedom from the kitchen, and the retailers that offer fresh, flavorful meat choices that fit our on-the-go lifestyle are much more likely to get our business.  So while Millennials might be getting lots of press lately, smart grocers and processors will be thinking about how to lure millions of suddenly-liberated Gen Xers to the meat case.

As for me, this empty nester thing is turning out to be not so bad.  Who says Millennials get to have all the fun?

 

1http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/16/this-year-millennials-will-overtake-baby-boomers/

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