When your mom thinks she’s a millennial…


sweet_maple.0.0.jpgThis summer, my family and I went on a trip to San Francisco. The first morning there, after being woken up extremely early by our parents, my siblings and I found ourselves standing in line outside of a restaurant named Sweet Maple. While the wait was excruciatingly long, my mother insisted this would be one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had and assured us she “has seen it all over Instagram.” My mother… not a Millennial… and an Instagram user of only a year… found this famous restaurant on Instagram?! Not only that but she had already chosen her meal after searching and browsing the photos on the store’s own page.

P.S. My mom and her Instagram research were right! My breakfast was out of this world, and if you are ever in San Francisco, Sweet Maple is a mandatory stop and you must order the Millionaire’s Bacon! Not to make you drool but…the proof is in the posts:

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But what perplexed me from this situation was not that my mom was right, but how my mom knew to discover and research on Instagram. Now-a-days when we sit down at a restaurant, it is a go-to move of my mother’s to whip out her phone, search the restaurant on Instagram, and select her meal based on the photos on the account; a behavior I have not yet developed myself. I have discovered my mom is much more digitally influenced than me in this sense.

Last week, in my presentation of omni-channel strategies and Deloitte’s Digital Divide, I spoke about one of the main findings this year: that retailers are looking at the future through a telescope and need to be looking at their futures under a microscope of their own companies. What I didn’t speak to in my presentation, and what perfectly explains my mom’s digital behavior in her search for restaurants in San Francisco, is the other main finding of the 2016 study of the “The Millennial Mindset.”

The Millennial Mindset” is an accelerating dynamic in customer behavior that older demographic groups are starting to embrace digital in their shopping journeys at levels almost equal to millennials. What this finding is essentially saying is that, although all the research and studies in recent years have pointed to unique behavioral patterns among millennials in regards to the use of digital, these very behaviors are becoming adopted by older generations in their shopping journeys.

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In 2015: 44% of millennials used digital during their shopping journeys while only 27% of non-millennials used it during their journeys. But in 2016: 44% of non-millennials now use it during their journey compared to 55% of millennials.

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After their shopping journey, 16% of millennials use digital and, right behind them, 12% of non-millennials use digital after the shopping journey.

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The way in which we use digital during our shopping journeys is being mimicked by those of our parents’ generation. In fact, for the past two years, in the process before shopping, non-millennials have used digital more than millennials.

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So although I may have been shocked at my mom’s use of social media before consumption, when that is not even something I do myself. The stats show that our parents may do this more than us. Not only are they taking over platforms like Facebook, and creeping onto Instagram and Snapchat, but parent are now consuming like we do to. So it calls use to question are these digital behaviors truly those of millennials? Or simply the behaviors of all consumers in today’s digitally driven world?

Next time your parents tell you to “grow-up” or “act more like an adult,” now you have the statistics to prove that you and your parents act exactly alike. In fact, we’re all just acting like big kids (millennials). Based on my mom’s use of digital in her journey, she totally has the “Millennial Mindset.” She probably thinks this makes her a “cool mom.” And, while I cannot confirm or deny that, all I know is that ever since our trip to San Francisco, I look up almost all restaurants or stores on Instagram before going and, traditionally, this behavior is something we would expect from millennials over older generations, but I’m proud to say… I got it from my mama!

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From strutting my stuff to my digital behaviors – I got it from my mama!

Resources: http://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/industry/retail-distribution/digital-divide-changing-consumer-behavior.html


  1. Great post! Super insightful and relatable. I liked the way you segwayed your mother’s insta use into a blog post about adopting a millennial mindset. I also super appreciated the tip becasue I will be in San Fran over Christmas break, and I will make sure to stop by! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the blog post also becasue it really speaks to how people of all ages and generations are adopting social media technologies as part of their everyday life to inform everyday decision. It has revolutionized the way people do about everything these days…including picking out a breakfast spot.

  2. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Great information and perspective. I definitely think my dad is more tech savvy than I am. He had an iPad and a smart phone way before I did! You bring up an interesting point with your comment about the rise of digital consumers versus the rise of millennials. I think that millennials are quicker to adopt the digital advances we are seeing but that consumers of all ages are likely to be late followers. In the future, I also think that we will start to see the non-millennials percent usage creep up. In my mind, the millennial usage is pretty saturated where as non-millennials have room to grow. Non-millennials also have the disposable income that makes them a key target consumer.

  3. sandytanny · ·

    Great post with really insightful statistics! I can definitely relate to your mother as someone that uses Instagram to discover new restaurants to eat at and deciding what to order based on other users’ photos. It just goes to show how we can not just limit social media as a solely millennial phenomena, but rather as something that extends to all generations and age groups. In some instances, these digital behaviors are even more prevalent for older users who have more needs and disposable income which affects their shopping journey!

  4. cattybradley · ·

    Loved this post! My mom used to detest how much time my siblings and I spent on social media, until we made her an Instagram account. Now she is hooked. I think Deloitte’s findings are really interesting – I wouldn’t have suspected that non-millennial are almost tied with millennial on how social media interacts with their consumer habits. I would be curious to see the content divide between millennials and non-millennials. I agree with @holdthemayo4653 comment about non- millennials having a disposable income – from a marketing perspective the non-millennial demographic offers a huge potential.

  5. bishopkh1 · ·

    Loved this post – especially the pictures of bacon! I am the ultimate Instagram foodie, so I definitely see the rationale in checking out food pages before heading to restaurants. There are actually a couple of startups doing a great job in this space that you should definitely check out. The Infatuation (covers NYC, LA, etc.) and Wine n Dine (my new favorite) have reviews of restaurants in cities across the U.S. and are great for figuring out what to order before you get to the restaurant. Wine n Dine looks almost exactly like Instagram but has an awesome feature where you can mark a food to try, and it’ll keep track of all the food you want to try. Highly recommend!

    1. I follow the Infatuation religiously ;) but need to look into Wine n Dine

  6. ikechukwu_28 · ·

    Great post. I can definitely relate to this as well; my mom has become an avid user of platforms such as Instagram or Facebook over the past 5 or so months. Whenever we go out anywhere to eat, she makes sure she does a quick run down on their social media pages to make sure wherever we’re going is going to have great food.

  7. Interesting post, and one that I (as well as most people in this class) can relate to. My mom once said that she would never get me a texting plan, but now she’s addicted to her iPhone and many popular social media apps. I do think that the “millennial” designation for such trends is limiting, and agree that the digital age itself is being used by all generations. While young people have essentially grown up with and had an easier time discovering digital tools, our parents lived through many huge technological changes that they have adapted to quite well – like the Internet itself. So it’s not super surprising to me that they are using social media tools as much as or even more than we are.

  8. katieInc_ · ·

    Great post! I’ve noticed a growing number of friends and family members adopting Instagram as a key tool for deciding where to eat and what to order once inside the restaurant. As more and more non-millenials are incorporating digital technologies into their consumption behaviors, I wonder what network effects exist. For example, my dad recently went on Facebook because two of his “buddies” started “Facebooking” and he didn’t want to be left out. It only makes sense that the percentage of non-millenials on digital will continue to grow because of these network effects.

  9. Loved this post! I agree with you, I am the first person to check Instagram to find new restaurants to try and plates to order. I think that retail and food industries are similar in this way, and there was actually a study done that basically found that the more frequently see something on your instagram (or other social media) timeline, the more likely you are to purchase that product, whether it be food or clothing. This statistic isn’t surprising, however, it does explain the increase in startups in this space (like Kelsey mentioned) as it is linked to so much data that shows increased interest and revenue.

  10. Great post. I confess that I’ve always thought the whole “millennial” thing was a bit of a red herring. Older people can get the benefit of digital as well, just might not be as quick to adopt for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with the year they were born.

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