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Every generation gets unfairly maligned. Take it from a Generation Xer (who’s not a slacker) with 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 the millennials, has been. Did people accuse the baby boomers of killing big band music, or Gen Xers of killing the leisure suit? And would that last one even have been a bad thing?
Millennials, people born between 1981 and 1997, have come in for a lot of criticism for breaking away from previous generations, whether it represents a major economic shift such as not buying homes or a daily consumer choice like shunning breakfast cereal (pass the avocado toast, please).
Looking at the trends they’re not buying into can tell us a bit about which companies and industries may be slipping away. Whether that’s good news or bad depends on how much you have invested in, say, the paper napkin industry.
1. Starter homes
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If you’re a millennial, buying any home in many U.S. markets may seem forever out of reach. But according to the CEO of real-estate database Zillow, when millennials do buy, they are skipping the starter home category altogether and buying larger homes, perhaps due to having socked some money away while spending those extra years renting/living in Mom’s basement.
(Are you longing to buck this trend? Check out: “10 Ways to Pull Together the Down Payment for a Home.”)
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Don’t tell President Donald Trump, an avid golfer with his name attached to numerous golf course properties, but millennials reportedly aren’t fans of the game. Researcher Matt Powell told Business Insider that this generation isn’t picking up the game, which isn’t cheap to get into, and that baby boomers are aging out of it. Hey, golf’s just not everyone’s cup of tee.
3. Cable TV
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Millennials aren’t the only generation that’s cutting the cable-television cord, but it’s no surprise that they’re getting the blame for hurting the industry. As Forbes notes, viewers can get programs on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO’s standalone streaming service and many other options. Younger viewers who’ve grown up with that kind of flexibility are unlikely ever to go back to the days when you could only watch what some suit in a New York office programmed for you at a certain hour.
Want to get on this bandwagon and save yourself some cash? Check out: “How to Cut the Cable TV Cord in 2018.”
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As Bloomberg notes, younger Americans are waiting longer to wed, or maybe deciding they don’t need the bonds of matrimony after all. More than half of today’s 25- to 34-year-olds are single, but back in 1980, more than two-thirds of that age group already were married. Meanwhile, the chance that they are living with parents or grandparents has doubled. Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but when’s the last time horses and carriages were trendy?
5. Casual dining chains
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You know the world of casual dining — burgers and Bahama Mamas at Applebee’s, 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 these chain restaurants. The new generation has more options, including online delivery services and meal-kit companies such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron, so casual chains may not be on their menus.
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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, CNBC reports. “Our data suggests the younger Gen Y population is adopting motorcycling at a far lower rate than prior generations,” analyst David Beckel wrote this summer. As it happens, they’re not huge fans of cars, either.
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Beer would seem to be a universal favorite across generations, but according, again, to Business Insider, millennials aren’t downing the brews like other age groups. (They’re still sipping wine and spirits, though.) But the Motley Fool argues that millennials are really fans of small craft beers, just not of big mass-produced brews. Drink up, then!
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Cereal seems pretty simple. Open box, pour into bowl, eat. But millennials are getting the blame for cereal’s decline, too — and for a weird reason. The New York Times wrote that 40 percent of the millennials surveyed in one report said cereal “was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.” OK, but what about the in-box prizes? Sadly, most cereals don’t offer those anymore, either.
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Millennials are big on staying in shape, but apparently not through traditional gyms. The New York Post reports that this generation prefers “boutique studio classes, online streaming services, running clubs, CrossFit gyms” and other options, not the standard general-service workout gym. Sensing a trend? As with casual dining, this group is trying out new options, and sometimes that means old ones fall by the wayside.
Want to go one step further on your fitness and financial goals? Check out: “Here’s How to Get Paid to Lose Weight.”
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This might be the funniest entry on the list: The Washington Post claims millennials are killing … the paper napkin. Paper towels, apparently, are an easy substitute, especially for younger generations. What goes around, comes around: Cloth napkins ruled the dinner table until the 1950s, when the easy, disposable paper option 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.
11. Movie theaters
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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, this is not your grandfather’s cineplex. And younger moviegoers are staying away from the theaters more than other age groups, the New York Post reports. But a recent trial balloon floated by AMC Entertainment that suggested allowing texting in theaters was quickly shot down by horrified consumers. Movies won’t be going away, but options likely will continue to shift as quickly as Han Solo can make the Kessel Run.
If you’re hoping to get in on low-cost flicks, check out these pointers: “4 Ways You Can Now Enjoy Movies for Free or Dirt Cheap.”
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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. An article from Caribbean News Service says these younger travelers prefer more “authentic” experiences. But what’s Isaac the bartender going to do with all those fruity drinks on the Lido Deck?
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Millennials aren’t the only ones shunning banks: With the prevalence of automated teller machines and the ability to transfer money between accounts online, consumers from many generations may not have to walk into the physical door of a bank any more. “Millennials also want to conduct their affairs on a smartphone, not go to a bank branch — ever,” Time magazine reports.
14. The 9-to-5 workday
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Dolly Parton famously sang, “Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’.” But millennials are cutting themselves free from that clock-chained work schedule. Forbes notes that 45 percent of this age group will choose a job with flexible hours over one with better pay. 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.
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Is ironing anyone’s favorite chore? With fewer millennials wearing formal clothes (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 cheats nowadays, including using a wrinkle-releaser spray, tossing the item back in the dryer or hanging it in a steamy bathroom. Now that’s a new wrinkle.
16. The suit
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Can you picture Mark Zuckerberg in a suit? The billionaire Facebook founder made his daily uniform of a gray T-shirt and jeans infamous. 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 want to say no.
17. Department stores
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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. In fact, Forbes reported in February that the different shopping habits of young people are among the reasons that Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom are closing some of their stores.
18. Wine corks
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Remember that earlier slide about millennials preferring wine to beer? Make that “wine that doesn’t use traditional corks.” The Atlantic took a look at how the youngest drinkers came of age with screw caps and other options, leaving the cork industry facing an uphill climb. Corks may be traditional, but, admittedly, other options are much faster and simpler to remove. We’ll drink to that.
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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 the “Gyms” entry a few slides back), who’s surprised? Guess they just weren’t born to run.
20. Bar soap
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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 reports that 60 percent of consumers ages 18 to 24 think bar soaps are “covered in germs” after use. But then you could just wash the germs off with … oh, never mind.
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Ding-dong! Who’s there? Not millennials, apparently. The Wall Street Journal reports that millennials and members of the upcoming Generation Z are accustomed to texting as they arrive at a friend’s home, with some calling the sound of a ringing doorbell “terrifying.”
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Diamonds aren’t a millennial’s best friend. The Daily Beast spoke to a senior industry analyst at the Gemological Institute of America who said that while diamond sales aren’t declining, sales are static, in part because millennials have other places to put the big chunk of cash needed to buy a diamond engagement ring or other baubles.
23. Lottery tickets
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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 back in 2016 that millennials are passing on buying lotto tickets. So, millennials must be really good at math. Or, as some experts theorize, their discretionary income is too precious to be spent on long-shot dreams of yachts and mansions.
24. Fabric softener
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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 was a 1960s invention that 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. That means hard times for the cute little Snuggle, the fabric softener bear.
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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 or 6 million, the site says. Can you guess what’s replacing them? Hold on, let me take a selfie of my international trip and post it on social media while I think about what that could possibly be.
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.