According to an article by Bloomberg Businessweek, Gen-Y or "Millennials" were supposed to provide a major boom for retailers. Because of the Great Recession, that boom fizzled out, leaving retailers and marketers empty-handed.
Before retailers bank on the next generation or Generation Z to boost their sales, I have bad news for them. My children, who are the oldest of the Gen-Z bunch, are penny pinchers. I think most Gen-Z children have been greatly influenced by this down economy.
My husband and I had to literally beg my 17-year-old son to let us buy him new shoes. After months and months of pleading, he finally broke down and bought a new pair of tennis shoes. I think it helped that my husband provided a discount coupon that he could use.
The making of a penny pincher
I'm not really sure why my sons are penny pinchers. My husband and I are not tight with money. I have to assume they have been shaped by the down economy. They hear the bad economic reports on the Internet. They know all about the high cost of college education.
Many of their friends' parents have lost jobs. It's nearly impossible to shelter your children from bad economic times.
Higher tuition, less spending money
Because of the high cost of college, my sons have less discretionary income. According to BusinessWeek, the slightly older Gen-Y consumers in their twenties were really hit hard by the recession. They have record college loan debt. Some of them couldn't get jobs after running up the college loan debt. I'm sure they have less money to blow because they have to pay back their debt. Everyone was told that college loan debt is "good debt" because it's an investment in your future.
Brands don't mean anything
The last thing on the minds of most Gen-Y young adults is whether they will score brand name shoes or pocketbooks.
Evidently Gen-Y adults are less brand loyal than their parents. From what I have seen, my Gen-Z sons are also less brand loyal. My sons are plugged into the Internet so they may be more influenced by reviews of products written by their peers. They are not into acquiring a lot of meaningless things.
I think most Gen-Z young people will live within their means. Retailers are wise to try to reach this generation through Internet advertising. They just need to recognize them as the savvy, educated and frugal consumers they are.
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More from this contributor:
- Bloomberg Businessweek