What Are Millennials Buying: The Gen Y Shopping Guide

what are millennials buying
H Agency For Rise Brewing

The millennial generation appears to be a perplexing subset of consumers. As they continue to establish and differentiate themselves from generations past, their behaviors and purchase decisions leave many brands to ask the question – what are millennials buying?

While not every individual of this generation will identify with the projected spending habits of millennials – these trends and forecasts are proving to play a definitive role in this generation’s marketplace preferences.

So, let’s jump right into it – we’ll answer what are millennials buying and feature some brands they love with our Gen Y shopping guide.

The Millennial Spending Habits

Before we dish the details, let’s give some background to millennial spending habits. According to Lexington Law’s “45 Statistics on Millennial Spending Habits”  – this generation has some serious spending power.

“Millennials average yearly expenditures totals around $47,112 and together, millennials spend $600 Billion in the United States each year. They spend two thirds the amount that Generation Xers and Baby Boomers spend on entertainment.”

The article also notes that, “As many Millennials are graduating from college with financial responsibilities, including debt, they have a growing obligation to be responsible with their money. By the year 2020, they will generate more wealth and will spend $1.4 trillion. As they pay off loans and get better jobs, their spending habits will change.”

So, what exactly does all of this mean? In short, Millennials have more vested interest and influence in the consumer marketplace than any other generation. And, if you’re a brand – your most favorable market of consumers, guaranteed to add value to your company, are millennials. Therefore, you should be appealing to them whenever and wherever you can.

What Are Millennials Buying?

Now, that we know how much money millennials spend – let’s talk about what they are buying and investing in.

They Shop Online

One of the top behaviors that set the millennial generation a part is their online shopping habits. Whether it’s because they feel that there are better offerings or value the convenience, millennials are more geared toward online retailers.

In fact, in busy cities where millennials work full time jobs and may even have a side hustle – they are more inclined to shop and purchase just about anything online. This includes groceries, household items and consumables. This is just the beginning – don’t forget shopping for clothes, electronics and household furnishings.

Therefore, we see large retailers such as Amazon that offer direct grocery shopping with Whole Foods delivered to your door. Or companies such as Plated, that send you weekly meal subscription boxes. Even more so, there are now options to save when you subscribe to a reoccurring purchase choice. Need paper towels every month? Subscribe and you’ll save some change.

For enjoyment and entertainment shopping, millennials seek fast delivery and free shipping. But, they are also more in tune with reviews and quality. Therefore, they research heavily before deciding to buy a product. And, will put off a purchase until they find the best possible deal.

They Shop Brick & Mortar Too

Although they buy a majority of items online, millennials don’t exclude brick and mortar options. In fact, millennials still shop in person for products such as personal care items, large electronics such as a phone or computer and various types of clothing.

They recognize that although shopping online fits into their busy schedule, there are some things that need to be seen in person before making a purchase decision. For example, when it comes to clothes – many millennials have no problem buying pieces online. Yet, a vast majority still prefer in person retail that allows them to test and try an item on before buying.

And, brick and mortar allows them to support local and small businesses. Considering that some millennials tend to veer off from big, name brands – they are more inclined to purchase from their local community to feel as if they are giving back and making a difference.

They Shop Sustainable

A third aspect of what millennials are buying is that they shop sustainable. Now more than ever, we are seeing a push toward more conscious and ethical consumerism. With big issues heading the forefront of our media, there is a call to action to be better and greener in the ways we shop and consume.

Millennials have no problem with focusing on sustainability. And, they would eagerly swap out one brand for another if it meant supporting a better mission and positively impacting on the world.

This is why we see millennials shopping with brands that produce items with natural ingredients and ethical production lines. And, they buy sustainable goods in any sectors. This list includes food, household cleaning, linens and clothes.

They Buy Through Social Media

The biggest outlet that shapes what millennials are buying is social media. Not only are they active on these platforms regularly, but they use them for reference, advice and insight into what is available in the market.

Millennials are more influenced by the opinions and choices of people they trust and in turn, will purchase based on personal recommendations.

This is why every brand needs to utilize social media to its fullest extent. If you’re not pushing and promoting what your company does and the products offered through various social platforms – you are losing out on an important group of consumers.

Millennials enjoy browsing through social media to discover new products and brands. They also find individuals with great content and use their influence as a sounding board for their own spending. In short, social media is highly influential in the way that consumers experience and support a brand. And, as time goes on – it will only continue to grow and expand to meet the shopping habits of millennials and newer generations.

The Gen Y Shopping Guide

So, we know how millennials shop – where, when and how often. Yet, what brands and companies do they prefer to support?

Here are some of the brands that Generation Y loves.

Warby Parker 

They offer quality glasses at an affordable price with quick delivery, in person shopping experiences and the ability to try before you buy.


Skincare and beauty products inspired by real life for your every day essentials. They offer products that are not only affordable, but make you feel and look great.


Offering the best bed for better sleep, Casper is all about getting the sleep you’ve always dreamed of. Not only are they award-winning, but their products are quality crafted and ethically made in the USA.


The brand for thoughtfully designed luggage that is made for how you travel and with a lifetime guarantee.

As you can see, what millennials are buying and how they choose to shop is defining their generation. Not only do they purchase often, but they care about the quality and production of their goods.

Would you like to see a complete millennial brand guide? Connect and let us know on social at @h_collective // If you liked this, don’t forget to check out our post on 10 Millennial Brands With a Positive Mission