From indecisive, lazy, narcissistic and boomerang generation, these are all names given to millennials who are unwilling or unable to leave their parents’ home. They have even been labeled the Peter Pan generation – they just don’t want to grow up.
However, what is becoming more apparent to marketers is the fact that these consumers will drive the economy in the decades ahead so this is becoming very important to their bottom line.
The baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has dominated corporate strategy when it comes to selling since the 1960s and created an economy fueled by credit cards and coming of age in a time of relative affluence but for all their rebelliousness, most ended up buying houses in the “burbs,” eating fast food and buying minivans and SUV’s despite the fact most had small families.
Now the milliennials come along; they spend money completely different and now marketers for retail as well as real estate are scrambling. They are changing the way everything is sold – including buying homes.
Because they came of age in a harsher economic climate, and they have many more choices, millennials are putting off major life decisions as well as big purchases that go along with them. They’ve learned to live life a different way and as a result, their consumer behavior is unpredictable.
According to census data from June, there are more 23-year-olds — 4.7 million of them — than any other age. Coming in second was 24, and third 22. Although there is no official age range for millennials, they are defined – generally – as being born between 1980 and 2000-ish. They will account for one-third of the adult population by 2020.
Even though they have some unkind “tags” they are the most educated generation in American history and attend college more than past generations.
Although the job market is showing signs of improving, it is still in trouble and the largest group of millennials are now graduating and emerging in a postrecession landscape. Most have enormous student debt to pay off and wages for younger college graduates has risen slowly since the recession which makes expensive purchases more difficult.
However, because of the sheer size of the group, they have significant earning potential and will reshape the economy in ways marketers haven’t begun to comprehend.
Those who deal with large purchases like mortgage lenders and automobile manufacturers have yet to figure out how to tap into this group of consumers – at least successfully. As one mortgage professional stated, most aren’t looking to buy a house or get married, they are strictly career focused.
Of course we have to take into consideration that boomers also puzzled marketers in their day and there is no strong reason to believe that millennials are any different than the generations of Americans that preceded them.