In 2018, the last of the millennial generation will be reaching their mid-20s. This generation possesses characteristics distinct from Baby Boomers and Generation X, having grown up in a digital-first world. However, millennials face a sea of challenges as they step into adulthood.
The young are not that young anymore
In 2018, the last of the millennial generation (born 1994, aged 24 years in 2018) will have graduated from college and entered the workforce. While some are only taking their first steps into adulthood, others have already established careers or settled down as young millennial parents.
There is a marked difference in attitudes between millennials from developed and emerging countries. In emerging markets such as India and China, millennials earn comparably low wages by international standards but are wealthy compared to their parents and grandparents. These millennials enjoy a higher standard of living that surpasses their elders, and view the future with optimism.
However, in developed markets, many millennials are poor compared with their baby boomer parents. They also face the challenge of high youth unemployment, as well as student debt burdens, unaffordable housing, low wages and an uncertain economic environment.
Not a child, not yet an adult: Millennials in a quarter-life crisis
Despite their desire for independence, many millennials are moving out later than ever. This delay in establishing their own households means that most households around the world are still headed by baby boomers, who account for only 18% of the population but head more than 40% of households globally in 2018.
Millennials around the world face varying burdens of providing for their elders. Developed markets such as North America and Western Europe, in particular, face a lower ratio of parents to children
Millennials are a generation that are not following traditional social norms of marriage and children. The trend in delayed marriage and having fewer children later in life has led to rising numbers of single-person household, which are the fastest growing type. Globally, homes with one to three people are growing rapidly in number. Apartment numbers worldwide grew by 12% over 2012-2017, and represented the fastest growing dwelling type.
Generation rent: dreaming of becoming “generation owners”
As housing becomes increasingly unaffordable in large cities, millennials, who should be in their peak home-buying years, are instead renting longer, well into their 30s, or living with their parents in a trend known as “boomerang kids”. Their preference for cities also means that it is more difficult for them to purchase their dream homes.
It is not that millennials are reluctant to buy homes – they share the same dreams of eventually owning their own homes as baby boomers and generation X, they are simply not in a hurry – buying homes later in life, enjoying youth, and waiting for marriage and more comfortable incomes before moving out.
Digital guidance for the digital native
Millennials’ childhoods were marked by a significant emphasis on education, but despite being the most educated generation, many millennials are equipped with considerably less household knowledge and skills than previous generations.
Home and garden retailers and manufacturers are finding a myriad opportunities to connect with consumers and teach a modern generation about their industries. To stand out among the noise and crowded digital landscape, retailers and manufacturers will have to be more creative, engaging and direct than ever. Scotts Co, the largest gardening player in North America, offers basic gardening classes, and its Gro app aims to take the guesswork out of monitoring garden conditions. Home Depot has published tutorial videos on how to use home improvement tools.