Every generation gets unfairly maligned. Take it from a Generation Xer (who’s not a slacker) who has six baby boomer siblings (who were never hippies).
But it’s hard to remember a prior generation being accused of “killing” as many traditions and cultural habits as Generation Y — also known as millennials.
Millennials — people born between 1981 and 1996, according to the Pew Research Center — are criticized for their ways, whether causing a major economic shift by buying fewer homes or for their daily consumer choices, like shunning breakfast cereal.
Looking at the trends millennials are not buying into can tell us a bit about the companies and industries that may be slipping away. Here are 25 once-familiar things millennials might be killing off.
1. Cable TV
Millennials aren’t the only generation cutting the cable television cord, but it’s no surprise that they’re getting blamed for hurting the industry. Millennials and nearly everyone else can get favorite programs on streaming video services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, SlingTV and Philo.”
Want to get on this bandwagon and save yourself some cash? Check out “4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less.”
Millennials are less engaged with their primary banks than any other current generation, says this Gallup poll.
They also are less loyal to their banks (they switch banks more often than other generations), and they’re less-engaged customers in other economic areas, too.
Millennials are big on staying in shape, but apparently not through traditional gyms. The New York Post reported several years ago that this generation prefers “boutique studio classes, online streaming services, running clubs, CrossFit gyms” and other such options, not the standard general-service workout gym.
And yet, there are plenty of ways to save on a gym membership.
4. Starter homes
If you’re a millennial, buying any home in many U.S. markets may seem forever out of reach. Some experts have speculated that millennials are skipping the starter home category altogether and are buying — or plan to buy — larger homes, perhaps due to having socked some money away while spending those extra years renting/living in Mom’s basement.
If you are a millennial — or anyone else — who is ready to buy, stay safe by learning “How to Compute How Much House You Can Afford.”
Diamonds aren’t a millennial’s best friend.
Millennials are said to have less enthusiasm than their elders for diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewelry. Lab-made diamonds’ compare well with mined diamonds, with their quality way up and prices far down, for one possible reason.
American millennials tend to be a practical bunch, and for ethical, financial and personal reasons they may prefer less-expensive gemstones for engagement jewelry, says Refinery29, a media site targeting young women.
6. Lottery tickets
There’s an old joke: The lottery is a tax on those who are bad at math. Meaning, of course, that the odds of winning are so high, anyone who can figure that out is probably using their money for other things.
The Huffington Post noted some time ago that millennials were passing on buying lotto tickets. So, millennials must be really good at math. Or, as we already know, they are practical, and their discretionary income may be too precious to spend on long-shot dreams of yachts and mansions.
The golf industry is suffering. Millennials have been blamed for lacking interest in the sport, but other factors — the aging of golfers, an oversupply of golf courses and declining golf course membership — are some of the major causes for this “perfect storm,” writes Golf Operator Magazine.
Millennials, with their annual global spending power of over $600 billion a year, actually have the potential to “save golf,” the magazine speculates.
Younger Americans are waiting longer to wed, or maybe deciding they don’t need the bonds of matrimony after all.
In 2017, half of Americans 18 and older were married; that’s 8 percentage points less than in 1990.
One reason: Americans are staying single longer. In 2018, the median age for a first marriage was 28 for women and 30 for men, says Pew Research, citing the U.S. Census Bureau.
Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but when’s the last time horses and carriages were trendy?
9. Casual dining chains
You know the world of casual dining — say, burgers and Bahama Mamas at Applebee’s, or chicken fingers and Long Island Iced Tea at TGI Friday’s. Business Insider quotes the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings as blaming millennials for the struggles of such chain restaurants.
Want to get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway? If so, you’re probably old enough to know the source of those lyrics.
Millennials aren’t fans of motorcycles, at least big, heavyweight bikes like Harleys, reports CNBC:
“The supposed millennial penchant for ‘killing’ industries gets thrown around a lot, but it could really be happening to one American icon: the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”
Beer would seem to be a universal favorite across generations, but millennials aren’t downing brews like other age groups.
They consume less alcohol than their elders, and when drinking prefer wine or spirits, says this Forbes article.
12. Breakfast cereal
Cereal seems pretty simple. Open box, pour into bowl, eat.
But millennials are getting at least some blame for the decline of breakfast cereal, too. For a variety of reasons, cereals have fallen out of favor as the nation’s primary breakfast food.
Millennials just aren’t “all that into cereal for breakfast, says The New York Times. In 2015, an industry report found that almost 40% of millennials thought cereal was “an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.”
Maybe it’s time to bring back the in-box prizes!
13. Paper napkins
This might be the funniest entry on this list: The Washington Post claims millennials are killing the paper napkin! Paper towels, apparently, are an easy substitute, especially for younger generations. And eco-conscious eaters gravitate toward cloth napkins, to save trees.
What goes around, comes around: Cloth napkins ruled the dinner table until the easy, disposable paper napkin became popular. Martha Stewart may not approve, but for a generation that’s also eschewing Grandma’s china, paper towels seem to be cleaning up just fine.
14. Movie theaters
Anyone who’s gone to a movie recently knows the cinema industry has changed. From fancy 3-D and Imax options to theaters with recliners, reserved seats and full-on menus, including beer, wine and cocktails, these are not your grandfather’s cineplexes.
Younger moviegoers are staying away from movie theaters more than other age groups, the New York Post reports.
Gen Xers grew up watching “The Love Boat,” where the Pacific Princess sailed for warm ports and romantic rendezvous every Saturday night. But millennials missed that show, and apparently they aren’t too crazy about the cruise industry either.
But the Pacific Princess was sailed to the scrapyard in 2013.
Caribbean News Service says younger travelers prefer more “authentic” experiences.
16. The 9-to-5 workday
Dolly Parton famously sang, “Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’.” Millennials are cutting themselves free from that clock-chained work schedule.
Numerous reports say millennials place a premium on flexibility in the workplace. And, hey, in this day and age, when most workers check business email from their phones, the flexibility helps bosses just as much as it does employees.
Is ironing anyone’s favorite chore? With fewer millennials wearing formal attire(see the next slide), ironing is falling out of favor, too.
As Bustle points out, many modern fabrics don’t need it, and there are several ways around ironing now, including using wrinkle-releaser sprays, tossing items back in the dryer or hanging them in a steamy bathroom.
18. The business suit
Can you picture Mark Zuckerberg in a suit? The billionaire Facebook founder made his daily uniform of a gray T-shirt and jeans iconic. Millennials are following his lead, often seeking out jobs (and lifestyles) where informal clothes are de rigueur.
So, the next time someone tells you to “suit up,” you might feel free to say, “No, thanks.”
19. Department stores
When you grow up with the ability to shop from your couch, why would you ever go into a crowded department store? Millennials just don’t have the shop-till-you-drop attitude prior generations may have held regarding big department stores.
The different shopping habits of young people are sometimes cited as a reason why retailers such as Macy’s, JCPenney and Nordstrom are closing stores.
That’s a complicated subject, however, writes Sacramento, California’s KBET TV:
“Millennials are less likely than previous generations to shop in brick and mortar stores, but the rise in online shopping could also be to blame.”
20. Wine corks
Remember that we said earlier how millennials prefer wine to beer? Make that, “wine that doesn’t use traditional corks.”
The Atlantic took a look at how today’s younger drinkers come of age with screw caps and other options, leaving the cork industry to face an uphill climb.
Corks may be traditional, but other options, including synthetic “corks,” can be faster and simpler to remove. We’ll drink to that.
Are millennials killing running, too? A Wall Street Journal article blames the generation for a decline in competitive running, at least when it comes to race finishers.
With so many other alternative workouts to choose from (see “Gyms” a few slides back), who’s surprised? Guess they just weren’t born to run.
22. Bar soap
Your bathtub may have a built-in soap dish, but chances are you haven’t used it in a while. Body wash has pushed old-fashioned bar soap to the back of the shower for many, and millennials aren’t about to bring it back.
MarketWatch reported a few years ago that 60% of consumers 18 to 24 think bar soaps are “covered in germs” after use, despite the fact that liquid soaps and even antibacterial washes are not more effective than soap and water.
Ding-dong! Who’s there? Not millennials, apparently.
Millennials and members of the upcoming Generation Z are accustomed to texting as they arrive at a friend’s home, and some call the sound of a ringing doorbell “terrifying, Southern Living says, recapping reporting by The Wall Street Journal.
The magazine adds that, in Japan, doorbells are so out-of-use that “almost half of Japanese people hide when someone rings their doorbell.”
24. Fabric softener
Here’s another quirky one: Millennials are apparently killing fabric softener. You know, the additive you toss into the clothes dryer to keep your outfits soft.
Fabric softener is something young people just don’t find necessary these days, the Wall Street Journal reports. Washing machines and clothing fabrics have improved so much that younger consumers don’t see a need for one more purchase from the store’s laundry-product aisle.
Having a great time, wish you were writing me a postcard. The fun photo cards tourists used to regularly scoop up on vacation are in trouble with younger travelers, Moneyish claims.
Twenty-five years ago, more than 20 million postcards were sold annually, but that’s now down to 5 million or 6 million, the site says. Social media is just a lot easier, and it’s instant. Millennials may or may not be to blame. But the trend is obvious. When was the last time someone, other than a marketer, sent you a postcard?
What else is on the way out with the rise of the millennial generation? Share your observations in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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