Just how different are millennials?
So far, quite. They are spending money differently than previous generations, preferring to throw cash at new experiences and adventures and to reward socially responsible companies that they can connect with and that they deem authentic. It’s easiest to see this change in the food industry, where millennials are helping to disrupt the landscape of casual restaurants and boosting the earnings of chains such as Chipotle or Panera.
As 2013 research from the Boston Consulting Group found, millennials anticipated spending the greatest amount of money in the coming year on fresh fruits, organic food, and natural products. Less favorable, in their minds, was the idea of spending on luxury goods, soda, applications, and handbags.
If there is one industry that millennials particularly dislike, it’s big banks. A three-year research study of more than 10,000 millennials found that a good handful of the least-liked brands were big financial institutions such as Bank of America and Citigroup, leading the authors to name the financial industry as one of the greatest areas for potential disruption by millennials. Community banks are trying to capitalize on this distrust by beefing up their technology offerings, social media, mobile banking, and customer service in an effort to attract more millennial customers.
The housing market is still pretty slow, weighing on the economic recovery. A big factor behind that sluggish recovery is the fact that first-time homebuyers (many of them young people) are staying out of the market, thanks to tight mortgage-lending standards, lots of career instability, and high levels of student debt. Heck, forget buying a house; many millennials in their late 20s and early 30s are still living with their parents.
Following the Great Recession, the millennial generation has suffered from high levels of both career instability and unemployment. Even in July 2014, roughly five years after the recession officially ended, millennials between the ages of 20 and 24 still suffered from an unemployment rate above 10%.
So where does this leave us? Around the country, various advocates, academics, businesses, and millennials themselves are carving out solutions to help the generation get on track financially. National Journal and The Atlantic’s Next Economy project will spend this month exploring some of the best solutions and talking to people who spend their time figuring out how to help this generation succeed.