It’s estimated that close to 8o million Millennials are now taking over the planet. But where are they most likely to put their purchasing power?
That’s a good question. For certain, new approaches to marketing both goods and services will need to fall into place to appeal to Millennials (also known as Generation Y, or GenY). They are more geared to see life experiences as where they want to put their hard-earned money, with an emphasis on travel, educational growth, and even art.
Everyone from employers to retailers will have to do a major paradigm shift when it comes to marketing to this mentality, which varies markedly from previous generations, who sought material possessions as symbols of social status and even happiness.
Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is
Of course, even these experiences cost money, but instead of having an item to hold after your purchase, you have a memory to carry with you forever, along with personal growth and enhanced well-being. And that may well be a much healthier way to go, say researchers.
As the old saying goes:
No one ever looked back from their deathbed and wished they’d worked more. Live a little, love a lot, and create memories for a lifetime of happiness.
And while modern media images inundate us with the message that status and self-importance comes from how we dress, what car we drive, and how much money we have, it turns out (according to several recent studies) that none of that really impacts our sense of serenity or happiness.
One such research project, written up in the Journal of Positive Psychology, clearly pinpointed that the happiest people do things, rather than buy things. Whether traveling to exotic locations or taking a new class, life-enrichment activities seem to outweigh throwing more clothes in your closet or more bling on your body.
To the contrary, those who shop excessively, almost to the point of addiction, even, may be among the least internally satisfied folks on the planet.
The Journal study wasn’t the only one to come across this interesting viewpoint, either. At San Francisco University, research staff discovered that humans innately know that experiential living will lead to a more satisfied state of mind, even when they don’t actually use that knowledge to make their own purchasing decisions.
It seems the impact of the internet, social media, and television often overwhelms that inner voice, and we end up with clothes we never wear and items that collect dust, or, at most, excite us for a day or a week, and then become relegated to a drawer somewhere in our house.
So Why Do We Buy?
It’s all about impulse buying. Sadly, although the purchase itself may have given the buyer an immediate rush (according to these studies), once that moment has come and gone, those who participated in the studies said they wished they’d spent their money more expansively: to grow, learn, and experience life from new perspectives.
Where does the pressure to purchase “stuff” come from then, if our inner voices know better? Well, Cornell University researchers found that, especially among the Millennial generation, everything from reality shows to award shows most likely send young people the message that “bling is king,” leading them to buy jewelry and clothes they may very well not be able to afford, and possibly do not even want.
“We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them,” points out Cornell psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich. The doctor was part of a research project that explored the connection (or lack thereof) between having money and being truly content.
After all, back in caveman times, when you foraged or hunted or traveled to the cave next door, it wasn’t called out to the world with endless selfies, tweets, or Facebook posts. In such a visual reality as we live in today, it can be hard to resist the desire to adorn yourself and make it look like you are more successful than you really are.
And Millennials are caught somewhere in the middle: social media mavens who also want lives with meaning and purpose. Smart marketers will need a complete paradigm shift to keep up with this complex generation, and only those who are up to the task will survive.
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