It seems that every week for the last 5-10 years, we’ve seen a new article pointing out the latest thing that millennials are supposedly murdering with every decision we make. Millennials are killing the standard work week. Millennials are killing napkins. Millennials are killing sex. Millennials are killing shampoo. Millennials are killing diamonds. Millennials are killing everything.
Hilarious right? Just a whole generation of corporate serial killers. Wild!
But get this, millennials are killing it.
We’re doing exponentially well for the circumstances that have been handed to us. We’re making decisions for ourselves that make the most sense for our budgets, interests, and lifestyle. How stupid would it be for us to continue to buy goods and services that we don’t need or want just for the sake of keeping corporate America alive? If we don’t want overpriced, deep fried chicken nuggets covered in sauce or a giant house for just “me, myself and I,” then that should be praised as a great budgeting decision for both your wallet and waist line. Shouldn’t it be praised that our generation would much rather give their money to a new, growing business (some local) that supports a new generation of entreprenuers? Instead, we are constantly being ridiculed, accused, and outright disrespected on the basis that we are somehow destroying the world economy.
To those who claim we’re “killing” literally anything and everything: Catch up with us.
We’re some of the most individualistic, charitable, and educated generations the world has ever seen, and if I could just be frank, it’s a successful business owner’s job to cater to the needs of their customers. If we want avocado toast, put your dorky version of avocado toast on the menu. You can’t just cry “murder” every time a trend, outdated tradition, product, or service becomes irrelevant due to changing needs and wants of a large population of people. I mean, we’ve seen some of the most successful brands shift their business models or products to suit the demands of their customers, including Wrigley, Twitter, Tiffany & Co, and Hasbro, just to name a few.
What on earth would make our society think that millennials will be the same kind of consumers as their baby boomer or gen X parents? In fact, you can take a look at this Business Insider article that hints that baby boomers are to blame for millennials’ more conservative spending habits. Some of us have seen our parents hit hard by the economy, by corporate America and the like, so pardon us if we tend to be a little more conservative with our money. Pardon us if we use our money to purchase items or services that best supplement our interests and needs.
You see, we’ve been through the wringer. We’ve lived through it all – 9/11 and the war on terrorism, total economic collapse, and the never-ending cycle of student loans, unpaid internships, low income averages, along with the rising costs of healthcare, housing, and general cost of living. If we’re not into chain restaurants, it’s because we are getting better quality food and service elsewhere. We’re smarter with our money than ever before because we have a growing list of priorities that perhaps other generations haven’t dealt with as intensively during the same age range.
Maybe we don’t want to be buying exuberant amounts of saucy chicken nuggets and bar soap because we’ve seen our parents struggle through the most recent recession. Maybe that’s why we demand products, services, or even the basic status quo are at a level that we expect and are comfortable with. We want convenience while still being cool. We want affordable while not being cheap. We want quality without it running us into the red. As millennials grow older and even more expenses pile up, the less likely we are to buy into optional, and sometimes unimportant, expenses like fast-casual dining, napkins, or a round of golf.
The American Dream has changed. It’s not so much about becoming a millionaire or exceeding the expectations of society’s definition of success. It’s become more about living your life to your own means and needs. It’s become focused on fulfilling your own individualistic goals. Sure, the traditional sense of the American Dream is always there; who doesn’t want to be successful and wildly rich? It’s up to us to keep our dreams alive. It is up to us be able to grow our passions into success, to create or support new business and services that cater to a growing generation.