Younger Americans, especially those ubiquitous Millennials, are backing away from tradition in celebrating Thanksgiving. Is anyone really surprised?
In a new survey from dunnhumby, a data analytics company based in Cincinnati, analysts say younger Americans adults are "straying away from tradition while using emerging technologies to shop and plan for the holiday - a stark contrast from older Americans."
Take a look at some big takeaways from the survey:
- 59% of Americans aged 25-to-34 plan on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year
- 20% of Millennials plan on buying Thanksgiving groceries with a food delivery app (such as Instacard, Shipt and Google Express)
- 16% of Millennials plan on using an online grocery delivery service (such as Peapod, FreshDirect, Amazon Fresh or BlueApron)
- In the survey, nobody 55 years old and older reported plans to use any of these popular online delivery platforms
- 48% of Millennials plan on using social media (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) to find cooking ideas and recipes - far above the national average
- Younger Americans are far more likely to increase their drinking during Thanksgiving
While younger U.S. adults are doing the same "big picture" things their parents did, like getting married and buying houses, they're showing significant signs of handling big holidays differently than older generations.
"Thanks in large part to the digital culture they grew up in, 25-to-34 year olds - older Millennials that are most likely to be established in their careers, married or in serious relationships, homeowners and have children of their own - plan on approaching and preparing Thanksgiving dinner quite differently than previous generations," the survey adds.
Even the way Millennials buy a Thanksgiving turkey and other holiday goods is different than their moms and dads. "Our findings prove that the traditional grocery shopping trip is a thing of the past - even for Thanksgiving," says David Ciancio, senior customer strategist at dunnhumby. "There are now four primary mind sets around shopping, which are discover, shop, buy and reflect, and retailers need to understand the new expectations and needs customers have for each."
It's not just groceries - Millennials are redefining Thanksgiving in ways their parents and grandparents likely would not have dreamed.
Case in point - there's already a new name for what many younger holiday consumers use for the last Thursday in November, and it's not 'Thanksgiving' - it's "Friendsgiving."
"'Friendsgiving' is where one person might cook a turkey and everyone else brings a side," says Natalie Kakovitch, a 28-year-old project manager at Alter Agents, a Los Angeles-based market research firm. Sometimes people traditional sides, along the lines of frozen pizza rolls, and it creates a fun potluck atmosphere that reduces the burden of each individual cooking and spending too much, Kakovitch notes.
"Essentially Thanksgiving becomes a fun daylong event, a mix of tradition and party," she says. "To drive home the point, one year, I ended up at a 'Friendsgiving Kegger' with more food than you could imagine that started in the afternoon and went until 3 a.m."
Friendsgiving really is the holiday that keeps on giving, Millennials say. Since it's not technically a holiday on the calendar, younger Americans can enjoy the "holiday" again and again. "Many Millennials, including myself, usually have one or two Friendsgivings we go to," says Adam Blacker, a public relations professional at MSL Group, a Waltham, Ma.-based marketing and communications firm. "With us, it's the same thing as Thanksgiving but with friends instead of family and it's always a good time. It's just an excuse to get together and have the Thanksgiving experience more than once."
Digitally, Millennials are far more likely than older demographics to publicize the holiday via online and mobile technologies. "No matter how you're celebrating, Thanksgiving has to be shared on social media," says Jessica Weiss, a San Francisco-based Millennial, and a social media and content marketing manager. "Whether it's a Snapchat video of the family football match or a gauzy Instagram of Grandma serving the turkey, sharing images and updates on social media is a central part of every Millennial's holiday."
"For some perspective, Instagram's biggest day ever was on Thanksgiving day, 2013," she added.
Some things will never change with Thanksgiving. It will always be on the fourth Thursday of November; the Detroit Lions will play their annual home game on the holiday (and probably lose); and there'll be plenty of turkey and stuffing on the table in American households.
But there'll be differences going forward, too, as Millennials put their own stamp on the holiday, in a way the Pilgrims and Native Americans wouldn't understand at Plymouth Rock almost 400 years ago - but probably wouldn't object too, as long as there was enough food, and good will, to be shared at the table.