Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) are starting to reach their peak spending years, and our consumer preferences are radically changing industries around the world. Here’s a look at how millennials are changing major industries.
We tend to get a lot of flack from older generations for how we prioritise our spending. We tend to be a generation that spends more money on experiences and that doesn’t seem terribly interested in traditionally expensive lifestyle choices like home ownership and having children. But, now that most millennials are in their 30s or thereabouts, we’ve become the biggest generation in terms of spending power, according to a CBInsights research report. So let’s look at how some industries are pivoting to fit the consumer preferences of the millennial generation.
This is obviously the first that comes to mind for anyone. When our parents were our age, vegans were outsiders and part of a tiny minority. Being a vegetarian was even a step too far for Gen X and Baby Boomers before them, but more and more millennials are taking on plant-based diets. One Green Planet conducted a survey that found more than a quarter of millennials identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian, with 81% stating that they’re making conscious efforts to cut down on meat consumption.
Naturally, industries have had to respond in kind. The plant-based food industry is now worth more than $800 million in America, according to a HealthCareers study. Beyond Meat, Impossible foods and other alternative protein sources are the primary drivers of an industry that is set to explode as millennials and future generations become more aware not only of the mistreatment of animals, but the effects that a plant-based diet has on your health, as well as the environmental impact. The meat industry is on a downward spiral and so are restaurants. Millennials are also opting to cook at home and order takeout more than going out for dinner, which has resulted in many closures in the hospitality industry (even before Covid) as a result.
It has long been thought that millennials would kill the automotive industry, considering our tendency towards micro-mobility, e-scooters, using public transport, riding bikes and skateboards, etc. This is simply because of our priority with regards to caring for the environment. However, the automotive industry isn’t quite dead and now that millennials are at our peak spending age, we are actually still buying cars. However, we are demanding efficiency. We buy cars that are very light on fuel and obviously first prize would be electric cars, when they are widely produced and less expensive. And, thanks to the pressure put on automotive companies to produce environmentally responsible vehicles, electric cars and automated fleets of driverless taxis that can improve efficiency, reduce traffic and minimise our carbon footprints, are set to become the norm, with companies like Tesla making massive strides in the development of renewable energy sources, battery capacity and countless other technologies.
Millennials have brought about an explosion in the makeup industry, with makeup tutorials through social media platforms turning everyone into a amateur make-up artist. Furthermore, due to a greater capacity for tolerance and the millennial generation’s disregard for gender norms, makeup is no longer only for women and men are starting to get involved with makeup. The global cosmetic market’s value stood at $507.8 billion in the year 2018, and is expected to rise to $758.4 billion by 2025. And the biggest changes that millennials are making addresses the major flaw in the industry – animal testing – which most millennials are willing to pay a premium for to know that their products are ethically sourced and manufactured.
Millennials are not the first generation to start prioritising fitness and going to the gym, but 76% of us do exercise once a week, in comparison to 70% of Gen Xers and 64% of Baby Boomers. Yet, it’s not our increased dedication to living a healthy lifestyle that’s making the biggest changes. It’s the setting in which we work to pursue our fitness goals. Millennials are starting to embrace boutique gyms and smaller classes. We seek choice and community.
Millennials also differ in terms of how they spend on fitness, tending to steer clear of traditional full-service gyms like Gold’s Gym or LA Fitness. In fact, despite our enthusiasm for exercise, mid-market fitness clubs have actually seen their memberships stagnate over the years. Women-only gyms are also becoming far more popular as a more empowered generation of women stands up to the men that gawk at their bodies while they exercise.
While it may not seem obvious at first, finance is one of the biggest industries that millennials are changing, and perhaps in the biggest way. Millennials simply don’t care for standing in lines at the bank. We want instant access to our finances and banking apps are now the norm. At the same time, the industry for mobile transactions is exploding thanks to QR codes and other advances in the finance industry in general. And while the biggest game changer of all, cryptocurrency, is struggling to make a truly lasting impact on the market, it edges closer and closer to mainstream adoption with each passing year. Millennials are fed up with the financial industry, particularly because we were the biggest victims of the 2007/08 global financial crisis and will likely be the biggest victims of the economic depression that the Covid-19 outbreak has caused and that may drag out for many years to come. Therefore, we are doing everything in our power to disrupt the legacy financial sector and find seamless ways of conduction transactions while reducing fees and increasing speeds.
Millennials are far too frequently being put down for our unique values and perspectives about the world, but as far as I can see we’re targeting positive change in the world, with a particular emphasis on sustainability. And what probably frightens the generations that came before us is that we’re starting to speak with our wallets. And if they don’t change, they’ll fall behind.