Industry Views - December 2016

Understanding Millennials
By Wanda Jankowski

At the Nov. 10, 2016 annual meeting of the Home Fashion Products Association, Kathy Sheehan, executive vice-president and general manager, global director, cultural insights of GfK Consumer Experiences North America (212-240-5300, spoke on “Getting An Understanding Of Tomorrow’s Consumer...Today.” Here are highlights of what Sheehan revealed about today’s influencers: the Millennials.

The year 2015 marked a tipping point: Millennials, those born from 1981 to 1997, are now the largest generation demographically, numbering approximately 75.4 million in the U.S.. Even if your consumer customers are primarily Baby Boomers, realize that it is a dwindling market and that many consumer trends in the mainstream today began with the Millennial generation. So understanding what Millennials are about is essential for the future success of your business.

Characteristics Of Millennials

  • Though employment rate among them is improving, they are behind other generations in the relative value of what they are earning when other generations were their age. Student debt is a factor in limiting their disposable income.
  • Many Millennials are “delaying adulthood”—living at home longer rather than moving out on their own.
  • Marriage rates are declining and Millennials are marrying on average later in life. In 1980, the average age for those who first marry was 22. Today, it is 27.5.

Although there is a tendency to cite overall trends, understand that the Millennial generation is fragmented—divided into many groups with many aspirations. Sheehan divides Millennials into: Hedonists, Survivors, Social Rationals, Nurturers, Traditionalists, Achievers and Self-Directed.

Many fall into the Achiever mindset, including a majority of older and younger Millennials, prizing ambition, looking good, status, power and self-interest. Many younger Millennials fall into the Hedonists segment, valuing excitement and enjoying life. Younger Millennials also value authenticity, knowledge and doing meaningful work.

Among all Millennials, experiences are more important than possessions. Self-expression is key. It’s more about what they do than what they own. Adjectives that apply to Millennials include: having fun, creativity, equality, social tolerance, internationalism and global perspective. Millennials are fully engaged with technology, to the point where they feel stressed that they are always “turned on” to it.

Millennials & Home

Although home ownership has declined among Millennials, it is still an aspiration. Style matters, especially to older Millennials, who crave modern looks that reflect a sense of luxury, individuality and novelty. Having a toxin-free, decluttered space is top of mind, with smart-home products, safety and energy conservation, saving money and the environment also significant concerns.

When making purchasing decisions, Millennials rate social networks higher and newspaper ads lower than older generations. They are leading the rise of mobile shopping and are interested in trying new things, which can motivate them to switch brands.




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