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Millennials and the era of the “Sharing Economy”

We all know at least one fact about the Millennial Generation. You know, that powerful demographic of individuals born roughly between 1980 and 2000? These “digital natives” grew up in an always-on digital world, control $1.3 trillion of direct spending power, and recently surpassed the Baby Boomer Generation as the largest generation in the United States. While wielding their latest and greatest technological gadgets, Millennials also consciously consume. Most, if not all, are willing to spend the extra pennies to purchase products that support their local community or a greater cause in some way, shape or form.

It is important to note that, although the aforementioned traits of the Millennial Generation appear to be positive and promising from a CMO’s perspective, there are additional facets to this demographic that are not quite as glamorous. Millennials took longer than expected to enter the job market and did so at lower wages, leaving them with less spending money than previous generations. Additionally, many harbor large amounts of student loans, which further strain their financial situation. This has led to many being drawn to a technology-driven, asset-light and low-cost consumption model.

Millennials have responded to their current financial situations by reframing their entire mindset when it comes to purchasing assets. This has led to the creation of what is being referred to as the “Sharing Economy.” This phenomenon focuses on access rather than ownership. Millennials are reluctant to buy items such as cars, houses and other material goods. They have begun turning to a new set of services that provide access to these types of products without placing the burden of actual ownership on their shoulders.

The Sharing Economy is beginning to reshape and ultimately transform the economic landscape. This latest trend harnesses the power of digital technologies such as GPS-enabled smartphones and convenient transaction apps to advance a variety of already very successful brands. From Uber to Airbnb, Spinlister to TaskRabbit, and Poshmark to DogVacay, each of these companies utilizes their own unique networks to share a wide array of services with the general public. Millennials take advantage of these as they appeal to the Conscious Consumer mentality most individuals in this generation possess.

Much of the information outlined in this blog may already be known, but many times can be overlooked. As we move forward through this era of the Sharing Economy, it is crucial to acknowledge and remember these axioms. Millennial consumers value the sustainability these types of Sharing Economy companies support and expect to be part of their overall process. This instrumental generation continues to seek out opportunities where they not only have the ability to identify with brands, but also the power to experience and influence brands in a more personal, hands-on format.

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