They don’t call us the cheapest generation for nothing. In fact, we are careful, frugal shoppers who do our own research before purchasing something. This attitude comes in the wake of critical events that have all been lumped together in our lifetime: the rise of the Internet and online shopping, 9/11, the Great Recession and lost trust in banks and politicians.
Thanks to these events, it’s no wonder that we don’t have the same spending habits as our parents. We might be picky when it comes to shopping, but what is it that we really want?
1. Cellphones and Tablets
According to a study published by Zogby Analytics, nearly 90 percent of millennials say their phones never leave their sides. Maybe it’s because they have pretty much everything we might need – a camera for taking selfies, apps to satisfy our short attention spans and of course, the beautiful Internet. It’s no wonder, then, that we want to spend money on them.
Generation Y leads the way for U.S. smartphone purchases, according to May 2013 research from Forrester. The study also claims we don’t shy away from high-end phones, either: We’re most likely to own an iPhone out of all age groups examined.
2. Entertainment Subscriptions
We all make fun of the “Starbucks-buying, Netflix-watching college student” stereotype, but the truth is, we sure love coffee, and entertainment subscriptions even more so.
A recent study from NATPE/Content First and the Consumer Electronics Association says it all: “51 percent of millennials consider Netflix subscriptions very valuable, compared to 42 percent for broadcast channels and 36 percent for cable subscriptions.” TV sets basically lack mobility, which is something very important to us. Streaming videos can happen anywhere and anytime.
3. Thrift Store Clothes
Macklemore might have popularized this trend, but that’s old news. Millennials will have no part in spending $50 for a T-shirt when they can get one for 99 cents. Styleblazer says that because we have no money, we’re more likely to value thrift stores or stores that offer special discounts for our age group.
We also care that many of these stores give back to the community, such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, because as millennials, we value communication and community.
4. Vape Accessories
While most adults are accustomed to smoking cigarettes, millennials have caught onto an alternative fix: vaping. Vape pens and e-cigs contain flavored, nicotine-enhanced vapor that simulates smoking with a reduced risk.
We currently make up 40 percent of the vape market. This is due largely to the fact that we embrace technology since we grew up with it. While older generations scratch their heads when looking at a vape pen, we pick it up and give it a go. Plus, with reduced nicotine intake and a reduced cost compared to buying cigarettes, vaping is all the more attractive to us.
5. Environmentally Friendly Products
NPR has concluded that we’re more likely to support alternative energy, and we’re more likely to believe that humans cause climate change. Just don’t call us the Lorax – apparently, we don’t like to be labeled as environmentalists.
A recent study by Asia Pulp and Paper found that 63 percent of millennials strongly supported having more sustainable options in the paper and product packaging they purchase, and 52 percent of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable paper products or products in such packaging. We’re also more likely to consider the sustainability attributes of a product before purchasing it.
How did we get to be so concerned about the environment? Well, aside from growing up amid global environmental issues, watch that guy tossing a snowball in Congress, and that might explain things better.
6. Convenient Food
That lunch won’t make itself – or will it? Yeah, we’re a bit lazy. According to USA Today, convenience stores are almost twice as important to us as fast-food restaurants. This is why big-name convenience stores like 7-11, Wawa and Sheetz have upgraded their menu options. Sometimes we consider getting a hoagie or a smoothie to be eating out.
Don’t forget Chipotle, either. We may be broke, but we’ll never pass up a burrito bowl. (Or at least I won’t.) Of all fast food options, Chipotle makes up the second most purchases by Millennials, beaten only by McDonald’s. And, with 6.4% of purchases from Millennials and only 1.7% from the general population, it’s the largest difference. Why is it that we crave Chipotle so much more than other generations? It’s likely our love for customizable dishes.
7. Healthy Food
So yeah, we still love Lunchables and Nutella-to-go, but when we can afford a healthy meal we’ll jump on the opportunity.
Forbes says we’re willing to go to great lengths to find fresh and healthy food. Whereas older generations were loyal to specific brands, we’re more willing to try different distribution models for food, such as buying food online and going to a variety of grocery stores.
We’re are also more aligned with the food movement, which supports such establishments as organic farms, ethnic/specialty foods and small-batch jams.
8. Small Batch Spirits
We’re crafty people – so naturally, we like craft spirits, right? Mediapost believes our interest is driven by four reasons: a desire for exclusivity, local preferences, longing for nostalgia and appreciation for the process.
While all of those reasons sound like bad alt-rock song titles, it’s kind of true. We love the stories of small craft companies that we can tell our friends; we’re super conscious about where things come from; and we just love old, vintage stuff. Need proof? Go back to the thrift store example.
When it comes to alcohol, it sure does feel good to express individuality. Businesses are starting to take note, too. There are now companies that custom engrave your wine and liquor bottles to appeal to the Millennial need for story-telling and experiences.
9. Varied Wines
What better way to express individuality by breaking down the snobbiest type of alcohol: wine? We’ve turned wine into a social drink by focusing on its story instead of its reputation, according to Mid-Market Post.
We like more imported wines and we’re more likely to try new wines from lesser-known regions and producers. We’re constantly pushing the wine industry to become more innovative and put a new story to our lips.
Isn’t it pleasing to know that older generations are coming up with cutesy names for our trends? Well, here’s the latest one: Millennials are embracing a so-called experience Economy, according to Business Insider. Instead of buying loads of things we don’t need, we’ll spend a weekend away from home or attending a great concert, making memories that will last a lifetime.
In a survey from Eventbrite, 78 percent of millennials said they’d rather spend money on an experience than material goods; 77 percent said their best memories come from experiences.
Take notes, big businesses – when we take the rare opportunity to shop, these are the things we value most.