Millennials are not to blame: why industries need to rethink what’s needed

What do napkins, chicken wings, malls and wine corks have in common? Millennials are being blamed for the death of all those things.

One thing that previous generations fail to understand is that it is not a Millennial’s job to adapt to the already set market. It is not their job to buy napkins and golf clubs or drive to a faraway mall to make sure it doesn’t go out of business.

What people want and are willing to spend their money on will change over time, and that is what it is doing now.

Today we as younger generations have different goals and different standards. If friends come around for dinner the paper towels will be bought out – no one will grab their pearl necklace and gasp at my uncultured ways because we understand that they are cheap and efficient.

There is becoming less of a space for pretty items that are quickly deemed unnecessary.

In our thriving wine industry, younger generations almost killed the wine cork, because apparently, Millennials don’t like a chemical called TCA (trichloroanisole), which is what winemakers use to make corks rot-proof.

Even the falling profits of New Zealand’s dairy industry are being blamed on Millennials opting for plant-based milk.

According to INC., Millennials are killing the vacation time because we feel guilty taking time off because we can’t afford it.

The housing crisis has forced Millennials to be frugal with their spending – as even with two jobs they’re unlikely to find their way into their own home without parental help.

New Zealand Millennials are railing against their disappointing retirement outlook, as some will be renting houses their whole lives.

But this isn’t a case of the Baby Boomer generation being at fault, it is a case of the rich getting richer at the expense of the rest of New Zealand.

It isn’t so much an inter-generational issue as it is division sprouted from older unsustainable projects.

There will be no “French Revolution” in New Zealand. The only way to change things is to become involved in the institutions that affect change.

We are called the snowflake generation, coddled and convinced of our own specialness. Between housing, high living costs, and a bleak view of the future – anxiety seems like an understandable response.

Let’s not forget what has now been dubbed the “John Kirwan effect”: culturally we now encourage people to speak out about their mental health yet, if you’re young, you’re a snowflake and need to just toughen up.

Millennials aren’t the problem; industries need to rethink what the younger generations really need.

Each industry that is not wholly sustainable in the long run is blaming its lack of sales on the latest generation of shoppers rather than examining whether it’s fit for purpose.

The headlines for these events typically read something like “Millennials are killing X” but instead, what they should read is “Outdated industries and business models struggle with a new economic paradigm.”

When malls become husks of what they once were as pesky Millennials now buy clothes online, there is unlimited opportunity for those empty spaces.

As retailers close brick and mortar stores, shopping centre landlords are facing the questions of what to do with all the empty space.

In the US state of Rhode Island, The Arcade mall’s 48 empty stores were converted into 48 micro apartments. This is an efficient way to accommodate the growing number of single people moving into cities.

Auckland’s CBD has one of the highest occupation rates of all the suburbs in New Zealand – with over 20,000 people recorded to live in the CBD.

Large empty car parks can be converted into green space – in Seattle, an old car park was turned into a water treatment facility and park, an environmentally friendly idea that guarantees people will visit, if not just for the views.

Millennials are extremely capable of spending money on something that speaks to them. It is not up to them to buy products just to keep the companies that make them alive. If something isn’t surviving, there is usually a solid reason behind its demise.

Old market powers are entitled and have become used to people spending an ever-increasing amount of money on things that they don’t need. 

When this trend turns, they are too unimaginative to adapt so instead they will complain about how former customers are killing their products.

The idolised lifestyle of the 1950-2000’s was unsustainable. The bubble burst and my generation’s inherited a world whose elders refused to acknowledge that their prosperity came at our expense.

  • Courtney Devereux writes for The Register.
  • This article was originally published on The Register.

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