MONEY Shopping

10 Things Millennials Buy Far More Often Than Everyone Else

For real, snakes?

Roughly a year ago, we at MONEY rounded up a fun list of 10 things millennials won’t spend money on—at least not to the same degree as older generations. Cars, cable TV, and Costco were all on the list, as were houses. A freshly released Pew Research Center study indicates that a larger-than-expected percentage of young people are still living with their parents rather than moving out and perhaps buying a place of their own.

Yes, millennials are stingy when it comes to spending in certain categories. Yet even as they aren’t following in the footsteps of their consumer forebears in terms of embracing big-ticket items like houses and cars, millennials spend far more freely on certain other items compared to older generations. Here are 10 things they buy more often—sometimes a lot more often—than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, including a few big surprises.

  • Gas Station Food

    Customers line up for their free Slurpees in a 7-Eleven store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    Millennials have been referred to as the grab-and-go generation, with 29% saying that they often purchase food and drink while on the run, compared with 19% of consumers overall. You might think that Chipotle or perhaps Starbucks would be the biggest beneficiary of this habit. But according to the NPD Group, Gen Y restaurant visits are actually on the decline, particularly among older millennials who are more likely to have families. What’s more, in terms of drawing millennial food and beverage visits, the fast-casual segment is handily beaten by an under-the-radar retail category: the gas station.

    Whereas fast-casual accounted for 6.1% of millennial food and beverage stops in 2014, NPD researchers point out that 11.4% of such visits took place at convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Wawa, Cumberland Farms, and Sheetz, where the hot to-go offerings include salads, wraps, healthy(ish) sandwiches, pizza, and wings alongside old standards like hot dogs and microwaveable burritos. Some even have espresso and smoothie bars, which is probably news to most older folks. “If you’re 50 or over, you still think the convenience store is primarily a gas station,” the NPD Group’s Harry Balzer explained to USA Today.

  • Same-Day Delivery

    FedEx Same Day delivery truck
    courtesy FedEx

    Patience is not exactly a virtue among consumers who grew up with smartphones and social media. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow sums up this mindset as “I want what I want, when I want it,” and points to a Shop.org survey indicating that millennials have been twice as likely as other generations to pay extra for same-day delivery of online purchases.

    Earlier this year, the New York Times took note of a surge in same-day delivery, in particular among services supplying alcohol directly to the customer’s door. “It has not hurt that millennials, who are used to ordering food for delivery on their smartphones, have come of legal drinking age,” the Times noted.

  • Hot Sauce

    Sriracha bottles on shelf
    Patti McConville—Alamy

    Sriracha is everywhere. It is spicing up potato chips and croutons, adding some extra kick to Heinz ketchup, and offering a strange twist at Pizza Hut. Heck, it’s even in beer. And the overwhelming reason Sriracha is ubiquitous is that it’s evolved into the go-to condiment of the all-important millennial demographic. More than half of American households now have hot sauce on hand. Sriracha specifically is stocked in 9% of them—and in 16% of households headed by someone under age 35.

    The hot sauce craze has translated to a constantly changing roster of ultra-spicy items on fast food menus. Part of the reason that millennials prefer spicier foods is that they were exposed to different tastes at fairly young ages. “Millennials like hot, spicy foods because of their experience with more ethnic foods, like Hispanic and Asian,” said Kelly Weikel, senior consumer research manager at Technomic.

  • Snakes

    snake collar
    Luca Gavagna—Getty Images/iStockphoto

    This past spring, an odd extension for Google Chrome was desisnged to allow users to sub the phrase “snake people” in the place of “millennials” on screens. It was a fun goof that now seems like ancient history. But it turns out that millennials really are snake people, in the sense that they have more interest than other generations in buying and keeping snakes—and all reptiles—as pets.

    “This age group, 15-35 years old, is the generation that is most active in reptile keeping and searching for related material online,” Keith Morris, national sales manager for the reptile product site ZooMed.com, told Pet Age last summer. Data collected by Pet Age also indicates millennials are more willing to splurge on their pets with luxuries like custom beds: 76% said they’d be likely to splurge on pets rather than themselves, compared with just 50% of Baby Boomers. Yet another survey indicated that millennials are far more interested than Boomers and Gen Xers in pet healthcare as a job benefit. So the big takeaway is: Millennials really love pets in all shapes, sizes, and species.

  • Athleisure

    Yoga Pants
    Kirsten Dayton—Alamy

    The demographic that overwhelmingly gets the credit for yoga pants replacing jeans as the mainstream go-to casual bottom of choice (and even coming to be seen as legitimate work clothes at the office) is of course the millennial generation. Yoga pants, hoodies, sweatpants, and other leggings are lumped into the “athleisure” or “leisurewear” clothing category, which has been most warmly embraced by millennials—and in turn inspired retailers ranging from Ann Taylor to the Gap to Dick’s Sporting Goods to ramp up their selections of women’s exercise wear that’s not necessarily for exercise.

    “When I look at athleisure bottom business—the yoga pant, sweat pant, sweat short—it has displaced the jean business one to one,” NPD Group retail analyst Marshal Cohen said recently. Sales of such clothing rose 13% during a recent 12-month span, and now represent roughly 17% of the entire clothing market, according to the market research firm. “For every jean we are not selling or used to sell we are selling an athleisure bottom. It has become as important to the market as denim would be.”

    Side note: Yoga pants aren’t the only skin-tight garment getting a boost from millennials. During the 12-month period that ended in May, spending on women’s tights was up 24% among millennials, who now account for 45% of all sales in the category.

  • Organic Food

    Organic produce sections in The Whole Foods Market in Willowbrook, Illinois
    Jeff Haynes—AFP/Getty Images

    According to a Gallup poll conducted last summer, 45% of Americans actively seek out organic foods to include in their diets. Millennials are a lot more likely than average to feel that it’s important to go organic, however, so the preferences of younger consumers skew the overall average up. Whereas only 33% of Americans age 65 and older actively try to include organic foods in their diets, 53% of Americans ages 18 to 29 do so.

  • Tattoos & Piercings

    Millennial with the words "Hustle" and "Money" tattooed on each leg using his iPhone
    Petri Artturi Asikainen—Getty Images

    It’s been estimated that 20% of Americans—and nearly 40% of millennials—have at least one tattoo. Surveys conducted for Pew Research several years ago indicated that about 30% of millennials had piercings somewhere other than their ears, which is six times higher than older Americans.

    Despite the growing acceptance of tattoos simply by way of them becoming mainstream, millennials remain somewhat cautious about getting one because it could hurt their chances of being hired. Or at least they’re careful when deciding the placement of a tattoo. In a recent University of Tampa poll, 86% of students said that having a visible tattoo would hurt one’s chances of getting a job. It’s understandable, then, that 70% of millennial workers with tattoos say they hide their ink from the boss.

  • Energy Drinks

    Monster brand energy drinks on sale in a convenience store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    American parents, likely exhausted by nighttime feedings, hectic schedules, and such, understandably feel the need to resort to energy drinks. A recent Mintel survey shows that 58% of U.S. households with children consume Red Bull, Monster, or other energy drinks, compared to just 27% of households without kids.

    Meanwhile, millennials are even more likely than parents in general to throw back energy drinks: 64% of millennials consume them regularly, and 29% of older millennials (ages 27 to 37, who are more likely to be parents themselves) say they’ve increased the number of energy drinks they consume in recent months.

  • Donations at the Cash Register

    signing electronic bill at register
    Juan Monino—Getty Images

    Some shoppers feel annoyed and put on the spot when a store clerk asks if they’d like to make a charitable donation while ringing up a purchase at the cash register. This isn’t the case with the typical millennial, however.

    According to a report from the consultancy firm the Good Scout Group, of all generations “Gen Y likes being asked to give to charity at the register the most.” What’s more, millennials say that they donate at store cash registers more often than any other generation, and they also felt “most positively about charities and retailers once they gave.”

  • Craft Booze

    Growlers on a table outside Faction Beer Brewery, Alameda, California
    Silicon Valley Stock—Alamy

    More so than other generations, millennials have demonstrated a distaste for mass-market beers and spirits—and a preference for the pricier small-batch booze. In one survey, 43% of millennials say craft beer tastes better than mainstream brews, compared to less than one-third of Baby Boomers. As millennials have grown up and more and more have crossed the age of 21, craft beer sales have soared at the same time that mass-market brands like Budweiser and Miller have suffered. A Nielsen poll showed that 15% of millennials’ beer money goes to the craft segment, which is impressive considering the limited buying power of this college-age demographic. By comparison, craft brews account for less than 10% of money spent on beer by Gen X and Baby Boomers.

    Millennials are also given an outsize share of the credit for the boom in craft spirits over household brands handled by the big distributors. As with craft beer, researchers say that millennials like craft liquors partly because it’s easier to connect to the back story of the beverages, and there’s an air of “inclusive exclusivity” and uniqueness about them. For that matter, millennials seem to care more in general about liquor brands. In one survey, 64% of millennials said that including the brand of spirit in a menu cocktail description was important or very important, compared to 55% of Gen Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers who felt that way.

MONEY Food & Drink

5 Great Things That Beer Does for America

Assembly Line Worker in Brewery
Cavan Images—Alamy

Hey beer: Thanks! Love, America.

The 2015 edition of “Beer Serves America,” a report prepared for the Beer Institute lobbying group, has just been released to highlight all of the wonderful things that beer does for you. Or rather, what the beer industry does for all of us, including employing millions of people and generating billions in economic output.

Here are five factoids from the report demonstrating how much brewers and the beer industry do for America, based on 2014 data:

5,825: Increase in number of Americans who worked in breweries in 2014 vs. 2012.

49,570: Number of Americans directly employed by brewers and beer importers.

1.75 million: Total number of jobs generated by America’s beer industry, including farmers, distributors, wholesalers, and bar and restaurant workers; researchers estimate that each brewery job generates approximately 34 additional full-time jobs.

$48.5 billion: Tax revenues generated from beer sales and beer workers.

$252.6 billion: Estimated economic output of the entire beer industry in America, representing 1.5% of U.S. GDP.

As impressive as the data seems, it’s worth noting that the figures aren’t necessarily all on the rise. The overall economic output contributed by beer last year is up only slightly from 2012, when it was estimated at $246.6 billion, according to a previous Beer Institute report. Because GDP was lower in 2012, beer contributed a higher percentage (1.6%) of the country’s economic output that year. What’s more, the Beer Institute reported that the industry generated more than two million jobs and contributed $49.2 billion in taxes in 2012, meaning that there was actually a decline in both categories by 2014.

Overall, beer sales in the U.S. have been flat or down slightly over the past several years. The general trend has seen mass-market brands like Budweiser flag, while craft beer sales have soared, with the net result being just a 0.5% increase in beer sales in 2014.

The Beer Institute report acknowledged “a dramatic shift away from less expensive products to more expensive local and ‘craft’ beers in bars and restaurants.” Yet instead of praising small brewers and the craft segment for their success, the report curiously passes onto them some of the blame for the drop in beer-related employment: “Consumers purchase smaller volumes of these higher priced beers than they do of less expensive domestic light lagers and pilsners, suggesting that fewer employees are required to serve beer in a given bar or tavern.”

Meanwhile, a report also released this week by the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers’ interests, points out just how quickly the craft brewing market continues to grow—and how many people it directly employs.

“As of June 30, 2015, 3,739 breweries were operating in the U.S, an increase of 699 breweries over the same time period of the previous year,” the report states. “Additionally, there were 1,755 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 115,469 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.”

MONEY Food & Drink

Best Made-Up Holiday Ever? Celebrate ‘Pie & Beer Day’ on Friday

Pie with pint glasses of beer
Tim Hill—Alamy

Because Pie, Beer & Chocolate Day would just be overkill.

Pioneer Day, held annually in Utah on July 24, is an official state holiday commemorating the day in 1847 when Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley. There are parades, reenactment plays, festivals, and fireworks throughout Utah to celebrate, and most businesses and government offices are closed.

But because Pioneer Day is tied to a specific religion—the original pioneers being celebrated were all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fleeing oppression in the East—not everyone feels included. So sometime around a decade ago groups of (presumably non-Mormon) friends began hosting “Pie & Beer” Day parties as an alternative, to have some fun and make the most of what’s traditionally been a day off from work.

Why pie and beer? Beyond the brilliance of combining two things many people love to consume, it’s a play on words: “pie and beer” sounds a lot like “pioneer.” “Pie and Beer Day was created as a counter culture alternative for people that don’t fit into the established green jello and hand cart mold that has been around for generations,” the Utah Beer Blog explains. As for how to celebrate Pie & Beer Day, it’s as simple as this: “Gather friends and/or family – bring pie and beer – have and consume. It’s been this way for years and it’s a formula that has proven to work.”

As for what kind of pie to consume, traditional pie-pies like apple and blueberry are most often on the table, but pizza pies and meat pies are fair game as well. Root beer is just as welcome as ales, lagers, and stouts too. Pie & Beer Day, you see, is very inclusive.

While Pie & Beer festivities can take place anywhere, last year saw the first large-scale celebrations, and the 2015 edition will be even bigger. (It helps that July 24 this year is on a Friday.) Local radio station KRCL, which hosted a pie-and-beer tasting fundraiser on July 24 last year at the Beer Bar in Salt Lake City, is doing so again this Friday. A $20 “Pie Pass” provides five pieces of pie from local bakeries (craft beer samples cost extra).

The Salt Lake Tribune has rounded up a half-dozen other Salt Lake City saloons and breweries that are likewise hosting “Pie & Beer” specials on Friday, with brews and slices of pie starting at $2.50 each.

Those who celebrate Pie & Beer Day are quick to point out that the festivities aren’t meant to mock Mormonism or any religion. “We’re poking the bear a little bit, but we’re not disrespectful. It’s about kind of accepting the confines of our culture while celebrating our rebellious spirit,” Leslie Sutter, owner of Huntsville’s Shooting Star Saloon, which has held Pie & Beer Day specials for five years, told the New York Times last year.

Come to think of it, it’s pretty hard to argue against pie and beer. If you don’t love one, odds are you have quite a fondness for the other. As for the many, many among us who are enamored with both with equally high intensity, well, Friday will be quite a holiday indeed.

TIME Food & Drink

Yoga-Pants Maker Lululemon Is Introducing a Beer

Curiosity Lager launches on August 15 in Vancouver

Would you like a lager with your downward dog?

Lululemon—that company of see-through yoga pant infamy that arguably singlehandedly launched the “atheleisure” trend in comfortable, everyday sportswear—is introducing a specialty beer, the Curiosity Lager.

The beer comes in a 500 ml slender can, has 4.6% alcohol, printed with a geometric array of Pacific Northwest motifs: a totem pole, a suspension bridge, evergreen trees, mountains, and water. A limited edition release of 88,000 cans is planned.

Lululemon teamed up with Stanley Park Brewing to launch the lager, flavored with chinook and lemon drop hops for “crisp, cold beer.”

The beer’s August 15 release is timed with the SeaWheeze Half Marathon and Sunset Festival, a popular race in Lululemon’s hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Though seemingly an odd couple at first, beer and yoga have coupled to become a major lifestyle force in the past few years, with boozy sessions becoming increasingly popular, particularly among the prime yuppie female demographic.

But Curiosity Lager is only the latest strategic deviation for the company, which is attempting to make its way into the men’s market.

Doug Devlin, marketing director for Stanley Park Brewing, told the CBC, “I think Lululemon, by extension, is interested in talking to a more male beer-drinking crowd.”

TIME beer shortage

Venezuela’s Next Shortage Could Be Beer

VENEZUELA-POLITICS-ECONOMY
Juan Barreto—AFP/Getty Images A member of the national guard patrols a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela.

Workers at the brewing company Empresas Polar are on strike

It looks like the citizens of Venezuela have one more thing to worry about: a national beer shortage.

Workers at some of the plants for the brewing company Empresas Polar — which the BBC says makes up to 80% of the country’s beer — are on strike. Last week, workers at the country’s largest private company walked out of two plants and 16 distribution centers, calling for higher wages.

While shelves at Venezuelan stores are not yet reflecting any shortages, Polar says it’s already struggling to get deliveries out to certain parts of Venezuela. On top of the strikes, the company is struggling to deal with shortages of raw materials, such as grain.

On Tuesday, Tarek Willian Saab, Venezuela’s human rights ombudsman, stepped in to mediate the dispute before the production slowdown could have repercussions for beer-drinkers. In Venezuela, beer is the drink of choice, accounting for 76% of alcoholic beverages consumed.

But beer isn’t the only product in Venezuela that consumers have to worry about. In fact, it might be the least of their problems: Milk, medicine, and spare machine parts have all faced shortages recently. In March, Venezuelans had become so concerned about shortages of basic goods that the government moved to install fingerprint scanners in grocery stores in order to crack down on hoarding.

MONEY Food & Drink

America Is Going to Spend Big to Celebrate Independence

From $725 million in fireworks to $1 billion in beer, Americans will shell out a lot of money this Independence Day.

When it comes to Independence Day, Americans aren’t shy about spending money. We’ll spend $725 million on fireworks, up from $695 million last year, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Forty-two million people will travel for the holiday, thanks to low gas prices, says AAA. We’ll spend $71.23 per person on cookouts, which is $6.6 billion total, for 700 million pounds of chicken, 190 million pounds of beef and 150 million hot dogs. And to top it off, we’ll spend $1 billion on beer.

TIME Beer

Congress Could Strip Samuel Adams Of Its Craft Beer Crown

Oktoberfest Sponsored By The Village Voice Presented By Jagermeister Hosted By Andrew Zimmern - Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE
Cindy Ord—2014 Getty Images A view of Samuel Adams at Oktoberfest sponsored by The Village Voice presented by Jagermeister hosted by Andrew Zimmern during the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE at Studio Square on October 19, 2014 in New York City.

Congress is ready to get into the craft beer business, which could mean bad news for big batch craft brewers like Sam Adams.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, proposed the new Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act that would give the U.S. government the right to define who is and isn’t a craft brewer.

The law essentially redefines the tax structure for small to mid-size brewers and would, accordingly, group them into three categories based on new excise taxes, which was outlined by MarketWatch.

  1. The craft brewers, those producing under 2 million barrels per year would get the deepest tax cuts.
  2. The mid-size brewers, those producing 6 million barrels or less, get a slight tax break.
  3. The macro brewers, which don’t get a tax break beyond their first 6 million barrels of production.

It’s a technicality, essentially a quirk of the law that would group companies for tax purposes. But, it would leave a number of big-name craft brewers out of the first category and in a higher tax bracket. That includes Boston Beer Co., which produces 4.1 million barrels (including non-beer beverages such as Angry Orchard cider and Twisted Tea), as well as Yuengling (2.7 million barrels) and North American Breweries (about 2.6 million barrels) with its Magic Hat, Pyramid and other brands.

Given Boston Beer’s recent production growth, almost 20% per year, it could possibly enter the macro brewer league in less than three years.

Until now, to be labeled a craft beer, breweries had to fit within restrictions designated by the Brewers Association craft beer industry group that involved barrels of production, percentage of a brewery owned by a non-craft brewer and more “traditional” aspects.

The industry self-policer has been somewhat accommodating to its peers in years past. It raised the barrel-production limit to 6 million from 2 million in 2010 to allow Boston Beer to lay claim to the craft beer title.

Boston Beer has been on a production tear in recent years, averaging more than 20% growth annually. If it stays the course, it could possibly reach the 6-million-plus macro brewer league in less than three years, leaving its craft brewing title far behind.

MONEY Food & Drink

Why Paying More for Imported Beers Is a Big Waste of Money

150625_EM_ImportBeer
Rene van den Berg—Alamy

Many "imports" aren't imported from anywhere.

A recently settled lawsuit means that customers who have purchased Beck’s beer in recent years may be entitled to refunds—up to $50 for purchases made since 2011. Customers who don’t have receipts can receive up to $12; to get a refund higher than that, receipts are necessary.

The settlement should serve as yet another alert to beer drinkers that “imports” such as Beck’s, Kirin, Bass Ale, and Foster’s—which are perceived to originate in Germany, Japan, England, and Australia, respectively—are actually brewed right here in the U.S. of A.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the settlement arose from a class-action suit filed in Florida against beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, the owner of the Beck’s brand, over claims that consumers were deceived into thinking that the Beck’s beer they were buying was imported from Germany. Beck’s packaging includes phrases like “Germany Quality” and “Originated in Bremen, Germany.” In fact, the Beck’s sold in the U.S. has been brewed in Missouri for years.

The settlement comes a few months after a similar agreement regarding Kirin, another Anheuser-Busch product that’s seemingly imported but is also made in the U.S. In a settlement reached in January, the beer company agreed to pay up to $50 per household purchasing the faux Japanese brew, though at the same time AB InBev released a statement maintaining, “We believe our labeling, packaging and marketing of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light have always been truthful.”

The larger truth, however, is that over the past decade or so imports—faux or genuine—have rapidly lost their status as the best brews money can buy. How this happened is that firstly, as pointed out above, many popular “imports” stopped being imported and began being brewed in the U.S. Many beer enthusiasts insist that the taste of the Bass Pale Ale brewed in Baldwinsville, N.Y., for instance, is vastly inferior to the truly English-made product of old.

Secondly, a little thing called craft brewing completely changed the beer scene in America and beyond. Craft beer production in the U.S. was up 42% last year, and craft beer sales surpassed 10% of the overall beer market in 2014 for the first time ever. Craft brews accounted for only 5% of sales as recently as 2010.

What’s more, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft beer interests, America exported $100 million worth of craft beer in 2014, an increase of 36% year over year. Regions renowned for great beer traditions, including Germany and much of western Europe, have been welcoming American craft beers with open arms. And the reason this is so is that smaller labels have consistently delivered fresher and more interesting flavors than any macro brew, and that America’s robust and creative craft brewing scene is viewed as the envy of the world.

Considering how beer-loving nations around the globe are eager to import American craft beer because of its superior taste and quality, why would American beer enthusiasts pay extra for beer that seems to be imported from somewhere else? Especially when in fact this beer is brewed in the same facilities that make the macro labels they disdain? Increasingly, the standard menu at bars and restaurants, in which imports are separated by higher prices (and presumably, higher quality) from American brews, seems out of touch with the times.

The point American beer lovers should take to heart is that there are many compelling reasons to drink local. Above all, if you’re going to pay a premium for beer, be sure that it’s based on the product’s taste, not because of some outdated idea about which countries have the best beer. This goes doubly in terms of supposedly upscale and high-quality “imports” that aren’t imported at all.

TIME viral

This Is the Most Rock-’n’-Roll Thing You’ll See All Day

Crowd-surfing lead singer catches beer in one hand, drinks it, tosses cup

David Achter de Mole is officially the coolest guy ever.

The front man of Dutch rock band John Coffey pulled off an epic stunt Saturday during the band’s set at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands.

De Mole was crowd surfing when someone in the crowd hurled a cup of beer at him. Without missing a beat he caught the cup in one hand, chugged what was left and threw the cup back into the audience.

Dave Grohl, you have just been upstaged.

MONEY Food & Drink

From Construction Worker to Brewmaster

Kenny Thacker explains how he launched Beer Hound Brewery after losing his job during the recession.

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