The Millennial Influence on Retail is Regency Centers' five-part series that outlines a generational impact on retail health, food, technology, and events and experience. Each week, we will provide a look inside current market trends and behaviors, due to the changing lifestyles, wants, and needs of this influential demographic.
If we were going to boil down current market behavior into two words it would be “efficient authenticity.” Everything that we’re seeing in the retail world about adoption of technology, home delivery, show-rooming, click-and-collect, and countless other initiatives comes down to this simple mindset. If you are looking for a quick takeaway then you can stop reading right now. Just keep “efficient authenticity” in mind when sourcing your next leasing deal, thinking about how to market a product, or even when designing an outdoor gathering area. You’re done.
For a more comprehensive look into what makes this market tick then you need to understand the Millennial. There is so much to consider when analyzing this incredibly diverse, often misunderstood, and widely written about age cohort.
The Millennial (Part One)
Much of current market behavior can be attributed to the interests and lifestyles of the Millennial. It’s important to understand this driving force behind almost every aspect of certain market changes. This is the second largest generation group in U.S. history, just recently overtaken by Gen Z. Although they aren’t the most powerful spending power in the market (yet), they are certainly the most influential. It is estimated that by the year 2020 they will account for nearly one third of all spending in the country.
In regard to the other two thirds of spending, what you are seeing is what happens in every generation. The previous generations want to get in on the excitement that is currently trending, and the ease of technology and information sharing has made that more convenient and accessible than any other time before.
Depending on who you ask, the Millennial generation can start anywhere from 1977-1983 and end near 1995-2000. Most analysts can agree on a 15-year span between the start and end, with the only discrepancy on where it begins.
Within that 15-year span there exists sub-categories that are influenced by the Millennial’s age or development when certain key events happened. This includes events like 9/11, the rise of social media, and the Great Recession. Millennials born in the latter half of the generational timeline were less impacted by 9/11 or the Great Recession, as they weren’t into their formative years of career growth or personal development.
Those born during the first half of the timeline – known as “Xennials” or even “Grey-Beard Millennials,” have slightly different patterns or behaviors due to these watershed moments. This includes voting tendencies, continued adherence to social media, and retail preferences. An overwhelming percentage of Millennials plan to own a home in the future (who don’t already), despite being a generation that is wracked with educational debt.
There is a caricature of the Millennial that is an avocado-toast eating, tattoo-sporting, entitled cynic who enjoys activated charcoal in everything and complains without acting. Exaggeration is common when casually alluding to a generation that isn’t your own. However, the reality sits further away in a deeply rooted and shared set of characteristics.
As Millennials come into their own in the next decade, we’re already seeing a resurgence in suburban areas that offer housing, cultural, and transit options that meet their lifestyle needs, and have access to shopping experiences that provide them with the brands and experiences they desire. It will be important to engage them on both the physical and digital level, through elements we’ll outline below. By understanding and tapping into this generation, we are tapping into one of the largest groups of consumers that are being looked-up to by younger generations, and emulated by older generations.