This year, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) decided to take a step away from politics and “the way Louisiana is” to discuss a new phenomenon – millennials and their effect on broader markets. Exe
The presenters could not possibly have been any different. The morning’s discussion centered around millennial politics and economics, given by a millennial, Republican pollster by the name of Kristen Soltis Anderson, who had written a book “Selfie Vote.” Anderson’s presentation centered entirely on her book and the statistics within to paint a picture that probably seemed confusing to some older folks in the room.
According to Anderson, millennials are beginning their “normal timeline” lives later … buying new cars later, shopping homes later, getting married later, and investing later. And yet, due to the relevance of “instant feedback” provided by newer apps and purchasing experiences looking to improve business, those same millennials expect the same expediency in their lives – everything should be streamlined and on their own time, from car purchasing, to home buying, even their business careers should be based around their ability to assimilate and adapt to constant feedback.
Specifically – millennials are expecting immediate feedback and the ability to translate that into faster-growing careers.
About 90 minutes later, UnMarketing’s Scott Stratten hit the room’s collective “nail on the head” when he uttered the phrase “Do your time.” Stratten is a marketing-based speaker who discusses the workplace environment and how to continue word-of-mouth marketing using social media. Stratten suggested the synergy between “old guard wisdom” and “new age disruption” was a key to any unstoppable company.
However, that wasn’t the kicker of his presentation – when combining the “new age disruption” with some key, past comparisons of product and marketing use, one can see how and why millennials expect the quick turnaround. Specifically, it took decades for the radio, TV, and dishwasher to become household items. Cell phones? Six years. Social media? Two years.
Combined with late entry into the job market, it’s no surprise that millennials are – by nature – quick moving, impatient, and early adopters.
And yet, in a surprise twist provided by Anderson, millennials tend to be more frugal and “fiscally conservative” than the generations that came before.
The reasoning? Watching their parents’ and grandparents’ retirements and 401k dollars disappear in not one, but two financial crashes during their lifetimes – one decidedly worse than the other.
That leaves millennials, who lean socially liberal, underserved politically.
So, take those inputs – underserved politically, disruptors, and jumping into commodity markets late, combined with a slow growth in wages (considered stagnant when compared with price of living), paints an easy picture as to why many luxury and non-necessity markets are condensing or falling apart.
An article in Business Insider last year cited diamond makers blaming millennials for slowing of diamond sales. It’s true, growth of “costume jewelry,” or the $3 and $4 stuff that looks just perfect for the millennial lady, sells like hotcakes. Meanwhile jewelry clerks look bored. It’s given the rise to the mid-size sedan, SUV, and 1,500-square foot homes on half-acre lots (or the “tiny homes” that are just shipping containers turned into living and bathroom spaces).
Even the Toyota Camry, once considered the ultimate “first car” or “college beater,” is receiving a new body kit that makes it looks more sleek and modern, perfect for the current-day millennial.
Complete with 32 MPG city, too – but that price point hasn’t changed.
Where does the political point of all this come in? Well, an underserved political generation is being inundated with a huge culprit of financial frugality in the multitrillion-dollar industry of student loans, which are government-backed. In most cases, however, in order for the government to stay above water on those loans, interest has to be capitalized and most borrowers end up with the debt on their credit history for years.
The middle-man loans allow universities to raise their prices, and thus the cycle continues – all the while out-of-college wages are never enough to cover the payments and purchase new, fancy things – it’s one or the other.
Most millennials are pushing those decisions off simply to pay off their loans.
So, the fact that the question on “how to deal with millennials in the workplace” is so mainstream it’s been introduced to conferences is a good thing. Why? It means the generation is now entering the job-market (non-service) for real wages and advancement, which means maybe those luxury and non-essential markets will see a boom.
At least, they should hope that minimalistic, frugal lifestyle didn’t become a lifelong brand.