Millennials get blamed for ruining all kinds of things, from iconic brands to the economy. The generation of people born between 1980 and 2000 is portrayed by the media as being stubborn, lazy, entitled, whiny, and oh yeah, capable of wiping out entire industries with just the flick of a mason jar.
But what boomers seem to forget is that every older generation casts aspersions on the young folks, shaking their heads at how things change and reminiscing over the “good old days.” There was a time when Elvis Presley’s gyrations were considered the height of vulgarity. Now we have HBO.
Tastes and interests change and unless popular brands, restaurants, and industries can keep up, they run the risk of becoming obsolete. That’s not the millennials’ faults — it’s just capitalism in action. Ahead, check out some products that are in danger of becoming extinct if they don’t figure out a way to appeal to millennials.
1. Fabric softener
It’s not that millennials don’t care about laundry — it’s that they don’t understand the point of fabric softener. Also, they’re anti-chemical.
The fabric softener market has been declining for years now. According to Fortune, U.S. liquid softener sales dropped 15% between 2007 and 2015, with the leading brand Downy declining 26% during that time period.
Proctor & Gamble marketing execs are scrambling to find a way to connect with millennial customers. But thanks to advancements in washing machine technology and laundry detergent formulations, it might be too little too late. Maybe the world doesn’t need fabric softener anymore.
The big joke about millennials is that they’re all graduating from college and moving back into their parents’ basements. But don’t assume this common trend is just because they’re lazy.
Zillow cites two main reasons for the lack of young people purchasing real estate: affordability and other generations. Housing prices have been steadily climbing while wages remain stubbornly stagnant, leaving young people strapped for cash and unable to come up with a 20% down payment. And those first-time homebuyers are in fierce competition with one another, especially in hot markets.
The other issue is the older generation. While empty-nesters of decades past chose to upsize or downsize, freeing up their starter homes for new buyers, boomers in particular are choosing to stay put instead. This means millennial homebuyers are stuck with less inventory, which is forcing them to either stay with their parents or opt for rentals instead.
The tradition of proposing with a diamond engagement ring is fairly recent — in fact, the whole thing was just a clever marketing campaign crafted by DeBeers. But millennials aren’t necessarily buying it anymore.
Part of it is a shift in priorities. While some millennials are trying to save for overpriced housing, spending hard-earned cash on glorified rocks seems wasteful. Some socially conscious citizens also point to less-than-favorable conditions in diamond mines and would prefer to see “ethically-sourced diamonds” instead.
Still, diamond industry analysts are confident that the market will pick up again. “Diamonds will always be the number one stone,” New York City jeweler Ron Supporta told The Daily Beast. “They represent legacy, heritage, and tradition. It’s about a commitment.”
Next: Life insurance
4. Life insurance
One study found that 75% of millennials don’t have life insurance simply because they can’t afford it. (Either that or they think they’ll live forever).
Even those who realize they need life insurance are overwhelmed at the prospect of sorting through options and deciding on a coverage amount. But what millennials may not realize is the younger you are when you get coverage, the cheaper your premiums will be. It’s worth it to figure out life insurance sooner rather than later. Now someone just needs to convince millennials of that truth.
Next: Lottery tickets
5. Lottery tickets
The saying goes that trying to get rich by winning the lottery is like trying to commit suicide by flying on commercial airlines. To some extent, millennials realize this.
A 2016 Gallup survey found that only a third of Americans aged 18 to 29 said they played the lottery in the past year, compared with 61 percent for those aged 50 to 64.
Next: Bars of soap
6. Bars of soap
True or not, millennials believe that bar soap is covered in germs. They also hate using it because it’s inconvenient compared to soap from a dispenser.
A Mintel report found that just 33% of millennial women are willing to use bar soap to wash their face, while the rest believe soap is old fashioned. Meanwhile, about 60% of Americans over the age of 65 think washing your face with soap is a good idea.
The research company Mintel found that millennials won’t eat cereal for breakfast because it’s too difficult to clean up afterward. There are the bowl and spoon to wash, plus putting the box away — the whole thing can take up precious minutes in a morning.
Also, cereal isn’t portable, making it a less likely option for busy days.
Fifteen years ago, six in ten households purchased napkins. Now only four in ten households do.
Millennials are likely to use a paper towel in place of a napkin simply because it works just as well and it’s one fewer thing to buy. A Georgia-Pacific marketing director also pointed out that millennials are less likely to eat at home around a table, so they don’t necessarily need to keep napkins in stock.
Next: National brand beer
9. National brand beer
Craft beer used to be a niche product. Now it’s a national obsession.
Big beer brands are suffering in the wake of the craft movement, with has more and more millennials turning up their nose at mainstays like Budweiser and Miller in favor of obscure, hard-to-get small batch beers.
Millennials are also more likely to purchase wine and liquor. As Joao Castro Neves, North American president and CEO at Anheuser-Busch InBev told AdAge, “If this trend continues at the pace it is today, by 2030 beer will no longer have the largest share in the alcohol category.”
To combat lost revenue, the beer industry has been trying to improve their image through clever advertising targeted specifically toward millennials. Only time will tell if it’s working.
The cable TV industry is literally losing millions of customers per year as more and more households cut the cord. It’s not that millennials can’t afford the luxury of cable — it’s that they don’t want it.
Younger viewers are choosing subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu to get their TV fix. Paying a premium for channels they don’t watch and not giving customers the ability to “binge-watch” is hurting the bottom line for cable companies.
As The Wall Street Journal put it, “The Golden Arches is losing its luster with younger consumers.” Despite marketing to a younger audience, McDonald’s has a few difficult hurdles to overcome if they want to recapture the millennial crowd.
For one thing, millennials are heading to competitors to find fresher, healthier food than what McDonald’s has to offer. They’re huge fans of customizable menu options like the kind you’ll find at Chipotle and Five Guys. Chains such as Panera offer socially conscious diners organic, ethically sourced options that make them feel good about dining there.
According to Barron’s, stocks are not a popular investment strategy among millennials. Only 13% of them said they’d invest their money in the stock market, with most preferring to build wealth through real estate (30%), cash (30%), and gold (17%) instead.
In comparison, baby boomers are much more likely to use stocks as a long-term investment, ranking it second only to real estate.
“Younger Millennials, thus far, have shown dramatically lower interest in riding motorcycles than have prior generations,” wrote David Beckel, an industry analyst for a New York-based investment firm, in a report on Harley-Davidson.
This comes on the coattails of a steady market decline in both motorcycle and motorcycle accessory sales. Millennials don’t want to expensive Harleys, and you can keep the do-rags and leather jackets, too.
The cost of buying and maintaining a motorcycle is part of the problem. Plus, they’re just not as “cool” anymore, at least not to the younger generation.
Harley Davidson is introducing a more budget-priced ride in hopes of attracting cash-strapped millennials. These models will start at $12,000, which is about half the price of a more traditionally priced Harley.
It’s not just motorcycle sales suffering in the age of millennials. It turns out the car industry has its share of woes as well.
Between Uber, public transportation, and ride sharing, young adults are increasingly finding car ownership expensive and unnecessary. Millenials are also waiting longer and longer to get their licenses, a phenomenon that’s totally new and surprising to automakers.
Still, it depends on what part of the country they’re living in. Urban dwellers might not need vehicles, but suburban-based millennials will most likely give in and purchase a car eventually.
Next: Bulk groceries
15. Bulk groceries
Millennials aren’t as enamored by discount warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s like their parents are. When they want to stock up on paper products, they go online to do it instead. Retail analysts predict that warehouse clubs will decline if they can’t figure out a way to draw in this key demographic.
“Today’s adults are not spending a lot of time shopping like my parents’ generation did,” said Kim Whitler, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School. “Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, they’re all time-starved and want to order groceries while they’re riding a bus to work.”
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