August 11, 2017

Millennials Not Buying It

There is a major cultural shift taking place. Goodbye Boomers, Hello Millennials.

Hooray for Millennials. They are making money-makers mad. Many individuals born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s to early 2000s are going off script. They aren't playing the game, and a variety of industries and products are feeling the pain of being left on the shelf.

There has been a culture shift quietly taking place in the most nonconformist generation since the hippy movement of the 60s. I am loving these Millennials, or "The Cheapest Generation", as frustrated sellers of stuff call them.

But the system should take notice - I don't think that ridicule and name calling will work this time.

Back in 1918, Nicholas Klein, a trade unionist, stated "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you." If the Millennials continue their game changing ways, and don't start buying and doing what they are suppose to, expect the attacks against them to ramp up.

"The least useful generation in America" aren't buying the dismal consumerism life that has been offered up for decades now. They see where that got their parents - debt, stagnant pay, depression, and struggling to raise a family on two wages. They see what the system has done to our planet. They were raised in an era of perpetual war.

Consumerist capitalism has infected everything. We live in a excessively wasteful, throw-away world. Disposable income, disposable products, disposable people. Waste defines our grotesque wealth.

Understandably, many of the young are not big fans of capitalism, with 42 percent of Millennials favouring a more people-centered approach. No wonder the establishment is in a huff, hurling insults such as "lazy", "high on self-esteem", and "entitled" at this recalcitrant cohort.

Get used to it. This group wants experiences that are more authentic, and less reliant on the Big Corp/Big Government cabal. This cultural shift is another nail in the coffin of a way of life that has been unsustainable from the beginning.

Things Millennials Aren't Buying

- car and home ownership

- uninspiring wage-slave jobs

- ownership (why own something when you can rent it?)

- bosses that use fear as a management strategy

- golf

- TV

- Mainstream Beer

- Big box stores

- Children

- Anything their parents tell them to buy

This is the most hope I have had in a generation since the Gen X slackers gave the finger to the mainstream. Having grown up through the Great Recession, Millennials are "an entire generation with permanently changed spending habits." Excellent.

It is good news that this group doesn't spend as freely as previous generations. Nor should they, unless they want to keep the whole Ponzi scheme going. And they don't. Is it because of financial constraints, or is this the generation that will embrace more sensible DIY frugal simple lifestyles? Will there be monuments to Millennials in the future? Time will tell.

I do hope it is true that Millenials are"ready to fight—to do whatever it takes". I hope they are truly  "not afraid”, and that that they go down in history as the generation that restored some sanity to a consumer culture gone mad.

If not them, who? If not now, when?


  1. I am a Boomer mom of three Millennials, and I can attest to the fact that it is true, they are not wedded to the ideas of capitalism. I am quite proud of them all for their skirting of capitalism, working for "the Man", and anything that has to do with golf. They are really our only hope :)


  2. Millennials also give me hope! I witness this mindset within my own family and encourage them as much as I can. They don't want the old brown furniture or knick knacks, they want to live life free of obligations that prevent them from enjoying the experiences that give them pleasure and meaning. The birth rate in the USA is the lowest that it's been in a century. That alone gives me hope and makes me believe that a big change is in the works!

  3. I like the mention of golf. What a waste of land. The post war generation took advantage of the social and economic changes after the war and cashed in, cheap houses and the new middle class jobs. There was economic growth to be had and finance become more powerful. Now the easy growth has dried up and the rich are struggling to increase their wealth so are now trying to turn the new generations into investment vehicles, student debt, utility price rises, ground rents and media subscriptions. The new mega corps do not feel they need to pay tax yet strangely they benefit from infrastructure, an educated workforce and a healthy workforce.

  4. I've been reading "The Hidden Persuaders" by Vance Packard. Was written in 1957 and talks all about the persuaders - the advertising "men" (most were men) and the psychology that was used to persuade folks to buy more and more. Lots of incredibly unethical research and tactics done. But what he mentions in the book that resonates with this post is, at the time of the book, people went from being "inner-directed" to "other-directed" -- allowing admen, corporations, and complete strangers, to influence how they lived and what they purchased. Based on this post, it seems millennials are going back to being "inner-directed" - I hope anyway. Its a much healthier thing for the person, and the planet. -- Mary

  5. I had to ponder this for a few days before responding as I feel less positive about the millennials!

    Yes, it is great that they aren't buying into huge mortgage debt and working ridiculous hours. They aren't buying houses - but they are buying huge amounts of clothing and consumer goods and tossing it into the landfill. Among some there is certainly an element of entitlement - someone should give me a free ride (many still live at home from time to time because too in debt to support themselves consistently and not willing to take a job unless it is a great one). They live for today and have negative savings - but how and where will they live when they are old and don't have savings? And some of them are also reported to be the group throwing the most food into landfill - they fill the fridge with grocery shopping but if someone texts and says 'let's go out' they do, and as a result the food goes off.

    Of course these are all generalisations based on what we are fed by the media. Many millennials are also trying to work hard at something they are passionate about and build a life of fulfillment and balance. My own kids are right on the tail end of the millennials and they see a world where the environment is in crisis, a degree at university is for the rich not for the bright and passionate, and a house - you are certainly going to be saddled with a huge debt. I can see where the 'live for today' and don't work too hard and save attitude comes from. Hopefully I have instilled in them enough optimism and tenacity that they can overcome these hurdles and build a life they can be proud of and happy about. Every generation has it's challenges and this one is no exception.


  6. I'm a boomer mom of a millennial too. I see some of the same as you write about here Gregg with the lifestyle she has chosen, but not all. I see a great deal of waste and an "I don't care about the environment" attitude, just gimme what I want. Now. When it breaks from lack of caring for it, just toss it, go get another one. The reason they recycle is to make them feel like they are not doing anything wrong by wasting so much.

    Millennials are indeed much more interested in experiences than in owning a bunch of stuff, owning a house, and playing golf. I fear though, they are doing a lot of damage to the environment because they travel so much by airplanes and by how much they eat out. I see extraordinary waste in their lifestyles generally.

    True, they don't spend much money relative to how many experiences they have.

    Quite a few of them are refusing to work for the big corporations (partly because they can't get hired for lack of jobs and the need for post graduate university degrees) and becoming self-employed, for sure. I've never seen my daughter show signs of anything except being self-employed and owning her schedule.

    Then there is another group, a promising and healthy percentage of them, saying no to most everything capitalism which delights me. Many of the simple living, frugal, homesteading blogs are authored by millennials. Many more of them blogging on how they are committed to living on less than boomers.

    Some millennials give me hope. They are fighting capitalism in a big way by not spending their money on it and rebelling. Yet, some are going in another extreme direction with so many expenditures on experiences.

    I was like Madeleine, I read and thought about it before posting a comment.

    Another troubling thing is a lack of human connection and very limited emotional expression. It's like they are numb. You are talking to someone and no one has shown up to the conversation. It is a strange thing.
    They go all these cool places and often it involves being in nature at least partly, but they don't slow down to experience it. They go, stay there a short while, then it is off to the next experience. They do not reflect.

    Mary, I read The Hidden Persuaders and Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key in high school in the 70's. Those two books changed my life. They made me question what I buy and to always look for how advertisers are manipulating me beginning at a young age. Very powerful. Great reads. Vance Packard nails it in all his books. The Century of the Self series done by BBC exposes this too. It is very long but worth it to watch. It is available for free on You Tube.

    Marketers have figured out that it is the boomers who have most the money. The campaign to get as much of it as possible has been ramping up over the past few years. Think golf, luxury travel, remodel home, get granite counter tops, ceramic tile floors, stainless appliances, walk-in showers, and change out your home decor and wardrobe often.

    Good job Gregg and great discussion your blog post has spawned.


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