Survey Says Millennials Ditch Brand Loyalty In Search For Lowest Price

Who has time to keep up with which brands are the coolest when you’re trying to make ends meet? That’s how millennial shoppers — those between the ages of 18 and 34 — are feeling, according to a new survey. Doesn’t matter what the name on the styrofoam cup of high-sodium soup says, as long as it’s cheap and edible.

In a survey done by WSL Strategic Retail, 25% of millennials say they don’t have enough money to cover even their basic needs. When you get to the 35-54 age group, only 17% say the same, and 13% are having a rough go over the age of 55, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Because of that struggle to make ends meet, it seems millennial shoppers just don’t give a darn about which brands they’re buying, and instead are focused on hunting down the lowest prices. The survey found 80% of nearly 2,000 respondents think it’s vital to score the lowest price, and 60% will choose a cheaper item over their favorite band.

In order to score the best deals on ramen and other life necessities, 57% research products online for discounts before shopping, and 63% stick with brands and stores they know they can afford. So that’s kind of like brand loyalty?

Hard-hit millennials less likely to be brand loyal, study finds [Chicago Tribune]


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  1. MrObvious says:

    They must have surveyed 2,000 poor people

  2. do-it-myself says:

    Indeed! When I can get a pint of decent ice cream from Dollar Tree, Ben and Jerry’s can suck it! (I still love my B&J’s though….I just get it every once in awhile….when it’s on SALE)

  3. WhoLikesPie? says:

    I have one product I’m brand loyal to… toilet paper. Screw the cheap stuff, not fit for use even on your worst enemy.

    • Lethe says:

      Amen to that. I generally buy it on sale though. There were a couple really good ones recently (like about 75% off), so right now I’ve not enough to last about a year!

    • do-it-myself says:

      Oh, definitely. It’s one of the few things I refuse to cheap out on.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Paper products in general I do not scrimp on. That include toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue.

    • bomber991 says:

      I actually prefer the cheapest of the cheap toilet paper, that 1,000 sheets per roll stuff. Why? It doesn’t clump up and leave little chunks of TP behind in the butthairs. Too much information? Yep

  4. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I think this is true for me in some aspects, but not in others. My brand loyalty, however, has little to do with price and more to do with quality. Beer is a great example: I am a massive beer geek, and while there are brands that I love, when I deviate from those brands it has nothing to do with price, but has everything to do with variety and wanting to try something different.

    Cars are another example where I am very loyal to one brand, but I did test drive several other brands when making my last car purchase. The most economical choice, which fit all of my needs on paper, drove like crap and felt like riding in a tin can. However, the debate between my usual brand and another brand came down to features, rather than cost.

    Times are tight, but value for the money really trumps all.

  5. Lyn Torden says:

    “… as long as it’s cheap and edible”

    … as long as it’s cheap and looks edible.

    There, fixed it for ya.

    • Lethe says:

      ed·i·ble (d-bl)
      Fit to be eaten, especially by humans: edible roots; an edible mushroom.
      Something fit to be eaten; food: edibles such as vegetables and meat.

      Why is your comment necessary?

  6. Snape says:

    Well it all depends, I shop at Walmart sometimes, but I’ll be damned if I ever by any “Great Value” products. When I am at publix I will get publix brand crackers, paper towels and so on.

    For my lunch meat I go with what tastes best.

    • Not Given says:

      Some Great Value stuff is OK, some of it sucks. The frozen blueberries are great, the trash bags are good, the Ziploc type bags are defective. Most of what we get here is Always Save or Best Choice. I have to buy name brand creamed corn but the Always Save whole kernal and the green peas are fine. I’ll never again buy the Always Save green beans since the time I bit into a stem. I buy the Best Choice fragrance/dye free laundry soap but the name brand all fabric bleach. I quit buying fabric softener and use vinegar, instead. The Membersmark OTC pain relief and supplements are fine. I have to have name brand TP and paper towels. Some store brand paper plates are OK, Best Choice isn’t one of them.

    • do-it-myself says:

      But watch out! Sometimes the Publix branded items are more expensive!

    • Cantras says:

      great value fruit snacks are fantastic, actually one of my two favorite brands. Trust me, I eat a lot of fruit snacks.

    • Southern says:

      Most “Great Value” items at Walmart are made by ConAgra Foods and Sara Lee, just for your info.

      Con-Agra is the same people that make Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Peter Pan Peanut butter, Van Camp’s, Wolf Chili, and dozens more.. Same products in many cases, just a generic label.

      I have no problems with many of the GV items, in most cases I can’t even tell the difference.. Say between their Mini Ravioli and Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli.. their Sausage Biscuits, and their frozen buttermilk/blueberry waffles are some of the best (frozen) that I’ve ever tasted.

      That said, there are some brands I’m loyal to, like Folgers coffee, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Wolf Chili.. I’ll accept no substitutes for those. :)

  7. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I’m not very “brand loyal” but there are certain products that I consistently use because they are the best for a particular need – like a certain type of shampoo, toilet paper, or toothpaste, or a specific brand of lunch meat because its nitrate-free, etc. Most of the time though, I choose whatever is cheapest or gives me the best bang for my buck.

  8. Alan says:

    As a 30 year old male who makes an OK living, If I see generic apple sause for 98 cents or motts apple sause for 1.18, i will pick the generic every time.

    That being said… there are times I do may for the name brand, but that is more the exception than rule.

  9. cruiseyone says:

    Look, I don’t think this is only being done by the “millennial” generation. Any smart shopper is going to look at price and value. I’ve been doing it for many, many years.

    Did anyone notice that P & G had a bad 3rd quarter? Well…guess what? It’s because people are looking for the lowest possible price for everything and aren’t willing to shell out premium bucks for their goods.

    They’ve lowered the quality of their ingredients, kept the prices high, and they’ve lowered the availability and face value of their coupons.

    This screams out for people to change brands. They can’t be shocked that consumers have finally realized they’re being bilked by these large companies.

    Become a “brand slut,” use coupons and find the lowest price for everything.

    • justhypatia says:

      I don’t think they’re trying to say that millenials invented the bargain hunt; simply that they might have less brand loyalty due to costs. Marketers generally assume that consumers are brand loyal, just as a way of doing business.

    • sweaterhogans says:

      I’m a millenial who is neither poor nor rich and I’ve always purchased the cheapest item unless it’s something that involves taste, like beer, or something seriously lacking in quality (like meat sometimes). Maybe the point is that most millenials are/were brand loyal not caring about costs at all. Most millenial people I know go out to expensive bars and restaurants all the time, only go to stores/markets in the city that are 10x more than the suburbs, and then complain that they can’t afford anything. I think most millenials were never taught how to handle money.

  10. webwbr says:

    Me thinks there is more to this story than meets the eye… I doubt many of these millennials feel the same about the electronics they buy. “…hey why pay top dollar for an Apple brand iPhone when i can get a Chinese rip off for so much less?”

    Food is a commodity, cell phone minutes are a commodity, but lots of things are not.

    I’m just sayin’…

  11. bigTrue says:

    Totally true. I really don’t care as long as the price is right. Sure, I balance it with quality/what I prefer, but I won’t pay more for a name brand. Kind of like how I’ve never understood paying more to wear clothing with a brand name on it. Why should I pay more to be a walking billboard for some company? They should pay me.

  12. mikedt says:

    Ah, generic beer. That came onto the market while I was in college. Even given our dismal financial resources, it still tasted bad.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Although I was far too young when generic beer in cans like that hit the market, I remember my grandpa buying it…and a quick look at the packaging showed that it was made by Falstaff – which was perfectly fine beer.

  13. SabreDC says:

    Here’s my two cents on “brand loyalty”. I’ll become loyal to brands when companies become loyal to customers. Companies continually “shrink ray” products, replace good ingredients/parts with cheaper ingredients/parts, and get rid of good customer service all to improve their bottom line… and they want me to be loyal to them? Ha.

  14. Polish Engineer says:

    As the article states, I think this is more a product of recent grads entering a craptastical labor market with a mountain of student debt more than a glance into the persona of this generation.

    All you have to do is take a peak into a Starbucks and watch millennials drink $5 coffee while they surf the web on their ipod to know why they are picking up bulk pasta at the grocery store.

    • Free Legal Advice! says:

      As a millenial, I resemble that remark! However, I saved for a year to get my I-Phone and my Starbucks budget is $20 a month. In the grocery department, we shop generic expect for an ever decreasing range of specific products, i.e Coca-Cola and unsalted pretzels.

  15. matlock expressway says:

    Do real people actually use the term “millennials” to describe this age group, or is this just a marketing buzz-word recently invented by some flunkie who is soon to be fired?

    I’m dearly hoping for the latter.

    • SabreDC says:

      I recently took a leadership seminar and one of the Breakout sessions was about leading teams comprised of members of various generations and millennials is the common-usage/accepted name.

    • Cat says:

      As if that isn’t bad enough, under – 15’s are referred to as “plurals” whatever the hell that is.

  16. Cerianna says:

    Hmm..i’m almost 34, and have always thought I was at the tail end of Gen X, not a Millennial. This article certainly applies to me though. My SO is in school, and i’m the only breadwinner, so yeah, price+value is everything.

  17. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Since when am I a Millenial? I was clearly at the tail end of Gen-X 5 years ago. Now at 33, I’m at the tail end of Millenial?

    As a consumer, I make informed decisions and do not buy the cheapest of anything because it appears cheaper. Anyone who does a little research knows that paying less for an inferior product will cost you more in the end (because you’ll have to replace it more often).

    • Cat says:

      Anyone who does a little research would know that paying less for a product will NOT ALWAYS cost you more in the end. Sometimes the less expensive product is the superior product.

      • Snoofin says:

        I disagree. rarely is the cheaper product the better item, especially with electronics. Sure. both a Dynex (which is cheap) and LG (which cost much more) TV may both display a TV picture for the same amount of time, but the LG one will give you a much better picture and therefor a better experience. THAT is what is important to me, not just being able to see a TV show. Its the same thing with household products. Id rather pay for Charmin TP over Scott 1 ply sandpaper as I like my ass to be comfortable.

        Even for things like frozen vegetables. Generic vegetables often have more plant pieces in them and are usually older vegetables. Thats why generic brand peas are always larger than quality name brand peas. Often generic items are the seconds from the brand names.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          I irony about your frozen veggies is that they’re both packaged in the same plant by the same company under a different name. The quality of the veggies themselves shouldn’t be any different, but you do get more stalk in a cheaper bag of broccoli.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          I irony about your frozen veggies is that they’re both packaged in the same plant by the same company under a different name. The quality of the veggies themselves shouldn’t be any different, but you do get more stalk in a cheaper bag of broccoli.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        I guess I was generalizing, but dollar general seldom stocks the superior product.

    • cbutler says:

      Pretty sure you and I are Gen Y. Never heard of millennial thought.

  18. Snoofin says:

    I wonder how many of these people who supposedly dont have enough money to afford their basic needs have smart phones with data plans, giant TVs, cable TV service, Internet service faster than dial-up, subscriptions for magazines/newspapers, Netflix, Hulu, and online video games like World of Warcraft

    • elangomatt says:

      Don’t you know that all of those things ARE basic needs to a millennial though? What would I do if I couldn’t watch HBO on my 60″ TV while browsing the interwebs with my iPad and texting all my friends on my iPhone. Ohhh look, a new iGadget is out! I guess I’m not gonna eat next month!


  19. sponica says:

    older millenial here (and I HATE the freaking term, I also hate being lumped in with kids who don’t remember much of life before the TSA, DHS, Patriot Act, etc)

    I’m a little of column A and a little of column B. I buy Bounty because that super duper huge roll of Bounty is going to be oodles better than that cheapo paper towel brand.

    I like Skippy peanut butter, not peanut butter, but SKIPPY peanut butter.
    Unless it’s grape jelly (welch’s), it’s smuckers all the way!
    I used to be a Breyer’s Ice Cream person, but they use those gums…I don’t like those. So it’s Haagen-Dazs for me.
    Chobani Greek Yogurt (none of those other brands)

    my method of paying less for stuff I like is going to Market Basket, I’ll buy the store brand for somethings (milk, frozen veggies, certain breads).

    but switching to Market Basket from $haws certainly cut down the grocery bill by 30% so I can afford to buy the brands I like

  20. LJKelley says:

    I do a mixture really of cheapest and brands. At the store its usually cheapest. But if I got to BJ’s and buy in bulk I find the brand names can be as cheap or cheaper than off brands at the store.

  21. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Brand loyalty usually takes several years, at least 2 products with repeated success to secure a customer bond. Many millenials are still young enough to not have a long history with a brand to even create a loyalty.

  22. maxamus2 says:

    Except when it comes to Apple, they will sell body fluids to be able to buy the next Apple product.

  23. rainyday says:

    There is little new in this story. For decades, advertisers have prized the under 40 demographic because they do not have brand loyalty, which makes advertisements directed at them more effective than advertisements directed at persons older than 50.

    The willingness of advertisers to pay top dollar for ad slots at TV shows directed towards the young, and relative disinterest in ad slots on TV shows mainly popular with persons older than 50 has often shaped the programming decisions made by the television networks. And it has created frustration when popular shows are canceled simply because the audience skews too old.

    • frodolives35 says:

      So if advertisers could see that demographic was only interested in cost they could cut the ad budget and reduce their prices thus increasing sales. Then we would not be able to see all the half naked women selling dish soap etc. /s lol

  24. spectacularisms says:

    I’m a Millenial (late 20s) married to a last-year-of-Gen-X-er. We both work and have good salaries, but we are super-cheap and as a result, aren’t brand-loyal towards things like staple food, cleaning products. The difference between brand-name dish soap and generic is less than marginal. Same with frozen waffles, vinegar, or mustard. I guess if you’re willing to shop exclusively at Whole Foods or somewhere really upscale, you might start to see a difference, which is why we don’t shop places like that!

    HOWEVER, I’m very brand-loyal in terms of things like clothes and shoes. I only wear jeans from one or two brands (because I can buy them online without trying them on and reliably get the right fit) and when my Gucci loafers wear out, you can bet I’m buying another pair.

    I rationalize this by saying that the more you are paying for something in the first place and the longer you expect to have it, the more you should spend on the initial investment. If I buy at $400 coat and wear it for 10 years, it’s worth $400 in the end. But no matter how much I spend on toilet paper or dish soap, it’s gone in a month, with nothing to show for it.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Agree. I’m 29 and while I like a low price (and will research or wait to buy in order to get one), I also am willing to pay for quality, buying local, and supporting American jobs (and companies that support their employees). Remove those factors, and I’ll just grab the best deal I can find.

      One example: I can buy cheap, Chinese made dress shoes at Macy’s for $50 and replace them every year because the cheap sole wears out and the cheap “leather” looks like crap. Or I can buy Allen Edmonds for $200 on sale and have them for the next 6 years before I send them back to the factory (in America) to be refurbished to like-new condition for something like $70. An American made Brooks Brothers suit is not much more (on sale) than a foreign made (and lower quality construction) suit from Boss. A pair of New Balance that supports American jobs is just as much as a pair of Nikes.

      I need to buy some furniture in the near future. I can spend $2k on some foriegn made piece with questionable quality at a chain store, or I can spend $2500 on a piece made in West Virginia, that actually feels well made, that I’ll buy from a small business 10 minutes from house. I’m OK spending the extra $500 there.

  25. trencherman says:

    I’m gen X, not millennial–and I think that everyone is doing this to some degree. The store brands in HEB (Texas chain) are often better, anyway. I am loyal to Costco coffee (roasted in the store, thank you), Citadelle gin, Rio Star grapefruit, Levi’s jeans, and some Mac products (because they’re pretty). Probably some other things, but I can’t think of them.

  26. Outrun1986 says:

    There is a big difference between disposable goods, footwear and high quality electronics. Would I rather pay $500 for a computer and have to replace it every 2 years because it quits or pay 1k for a good computer and have it last 6-7 years before it comes close to outdated. Disposables and consumables are gone when they are gone, if you buy a bad product, you are probably out $3 or less. Buy an electronics device that doesn’t perform as you expect and you could be out $500+ dollars for something that isn’t meeting your needs.

    A good pair of shoes to me are worth their weight in gold, if my feet feel good all day then so do I, if I am wearing crappy shoes, well I feel crappy too. If something fits that good that it improves my daily life and comfort when I walk then I am willing to pay for that.

    The only good place to get generics here is Aldi, as the other groceries stores have raised the cost of their generics so high that if you have a coupon for the name brand then the name brand actually becomes cheaper. I am talking 20 cent difference in price. Aldi generics cost so much less than all the other stores here its amazing and their generics are good. Some of the prices are $1 less or more. We have found things that cost 50% less at aldi than at other stores, and that is for generics.

  27. shinazzle23 says:

    And then there’s this:

    Why Generic Products Can Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

  28. LabanDenter says:

    and yet they’ll buy iphones with the ~$100/month phone plan.

  29. Mad Monk says:

    Brand loyal not me. I drink craft and American regionals that are dirt cheep. It is not about the money it is about if it is any good. Some really cheap beers are pretty darn good for their price point. i.e. Rhinelander,Grain Belt, Schlitz,….