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Shopping for Your Roots: How the Grocery Trip Culturally Connects Latino Millennials

First Posted: May 11, 2016 04:59 PM EDT
Food Prices Hit 15-Year High

Food Prices Hit 15-Year High(Photo : Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Millennials find themselves at a cultural crossroads, the intersection between identifying with their roots while increasingly acculturating to the U.S. mainstream.

The booming young generation in general is simply more "multicultural" than any previous generation in the U.S., with about 40 percent of millennials identifying as Latino, African American or Asian American.

Important Consumer Base

Latinos in particular, are the largest part of multicultural millennials: Latinos make up more than half of multicultural millennials (at about 21 percent of the total U.S. millennial population), and in certain areas like southern California, they make up an even larger proportion. For example, in L.A., one quarter of the population are millennial, and half of that population are Latinos. In addition, over a quarter of all U.S. millennials are first or second-generation immigrants, and especially Latinos.

As such, connecting with roots matters a lot, and part of the way to do that is food. The unique position of the largest millennial group, Latinos, shows up in their shopping habits at the grocery, according to a recent study by Nielsen.

The Nielsen report comes from the company's Hispanic Grocery Survey, which spent three weeks at grocery stores surveying over 3,300 millennial shoppers, in both English and Spanish.

Grocery Preferences & Language

Among the many findings of the survey, Nielsen found how important Latino millennials' Hispanic roots were when it came to food preferences. "When it comes to grocery, Latino millennials are true to their heritage, attracted by cultural tough stones of small, taste, and familiarity," noted Nielsen on the report's findings.

Nationally, 61 percent of Latino millennials reported they had shopped at specifically Hispanic supermarkets over the past year, and in high-population areas for Latinos like L.A., the rate of grocery shopping at Latino grocery chains jumped to 74 percent.

Language played a big role in young Latinos' shopping preferences, with the vast majority of Spanish-dominant and bilingual millennial Latinos in the country preferring Hispanic supermarkets. A full 98 percent of Spanish-dominant millennial Latinos had shopped for their roots at the grocery store, and 83 percent of bilingual young Latinos did as well.

Availability Matters Too

But language wasn't the only factor, as nearly half (45 percent) of English-dominant Latino millennials had also visited Hispanic grocery stores in the past year.

One of the other big factors contributing to whether or not a millennial Latino had visited Hispanic grocery stores was simply availability. The number one reason all Hispanics and millennial Latinos in particular gave if they hadn't visited a Hispanic supermarket in the past year was that there was a lack of stores nearby. Meanwhile, in L.A., where Hispanic grocers are a lot more common, for example, almost 60 percent of English-dominant Latino millennials had visited a Hispanic grocery store.

Open to Other Cultural Food

As the largest segment of "multicultural" millennials, one of the most interesting things revealed by the Nielsen study is how young Latinos aren't exclusively interested in Hispanic food -- they're open to experimenting with foods from other cultures. For example, 22 percent of young Latinos had shopped at an Asian supermarket.

The preference for young Latinos connecting with their roots is clear though, and it appears that availability and convenience is more of a factor than language when it comes to shopping at Hispanic grocery stores or not.

You can check out more of Nielsen's look at Latino millennials' consumer habits at the grocery store here.

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