Anyone who has read his work can attest that Hedgeye demography guru Neil Howe is one of the brightest bulbs out there. In the brief bullets below, the man who coined the term "millennials" cuts through recent news headline noise and shares some observations on topics people are talking about across America.
Millennial Kashmira Gander notes that many of her peers (herself included) have become “obsessed” with houseplants. In addition to boosting mental health and air quality, these plants also afford single Millennials the opportunity to “have a go at caring for something other than ourselves.” (The Independent)
- Neil Howe: This Millennial's report on her generation's plant obsession nicely coincides with other recent reports on Millennials' pet obsession. (Like plants, pets are "family" members you can afford when raising a real family just has to wait.) See the report issued last April by the American Pet Products Association showing that Millennials accounted for 35% of all pet owners in 2015--thereby exceeding Boomer owners for the first time. (See: "Pet Care: The Four-Legged Bull Market.")
One in three Millennials wish they had grown up when their parents were kids, while just 15% of older generations say they would rather have grown up today. In danger of becoming the first generation to earn less than their parents did, Millennials would certainly consider trading places. (Resolution Foundation)
- NH: This survey speaks to the surprisingly conventional Millennial outlook on the world. (A recent Economist survey came to a similar conclusion.) Try to imagine, after all, how many young Boomers in 1970 would have preferred growing up in the 1920s! In the era of Trump, to be sure, lots of Americans are expressing nostalgia about the past. A 2013 PPRI study showed that a majority of Americans (54%) say that "American culture and way of life" has changed for the worse since the 1950--with men and women agreeing equally and a surprising share of African-Americans (39%), Hispanics (43%), and Millennials (49%) also agreeing. (See: "Did You Know? Those Nifty '50s.")
Next month, Nordstrom will open a California store featuring manicures, onsite tailoring, and a café—but no clothes inventory. This radical strategy comes at a time when brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to create more added value for customers that venture out to the store. (The Wall Street Journal)
- NH: The future of retail is neither all digital nor all brick and mortar. It is the complementary mix of both--hi-tech and hi-touch--which is why the Nordstrom move makes perfect sense. Even eMarketer admits that 90% of the world's retail sales are still face to face. Amazon knows it has to learn how to manage physical stores at least as rapidly as the traditional brands have to master e-tail.
Only 5% of Millennials between the ages of 21 and 34 have opened a mortgage—compared to 10% of Xers at the same age. While their parents prioritized homeownership, Millennials would rather save money by living with family and friends. (TransUnion)
- NH: This isn't just a difference in credit eligibility. Even in the highest super-prime credit tier, 16% of young Gen Xers were opening mortgages (at higher real rates), versus 13% of today's young Millennials.
Contributor John Solari urges companies to cash in on Boomers’ institutional knowledge before they retire. For companies with aging workforces, the message is clear: Those that can successfully transfer knowledge from one generation to the next will come out ahead in the long run. (Reno Gazette-Journal)
- NH: Some economists are suggesting that the massive retirement of Boomers, who earn roughly twice the salary of incoming Millennials, is helping to restrain growth in average wages. If we assume that earnings track marginal labor product, this exodus may also help explain some of the recent slowdown in U.S. productivity growth. Retaining Boomer experience is an economic plus. And when employers can't retain it, finding creative ways to persuade Boomers to pass their experience on to newbies and "teach their children well" is the next-best plus.