I am in the Netherlands for the Christmas break and I always like to stay with my mother because of the soul food, quality time with her and the feeling of being home. This time is special because I am moving from Dublin to Stockholm. What has this all to do with being a millennial?
In 2013 we moved from the Netherlands to Dublin and we decided to travel light, meaning we stored stuff at our mother’s places ( looking back, we still brought a lot of unnecessary stuff ). Because I am moving to Stockholm I have decided to send everything back to the Netherlands and bring only the necessities (i.e. clothing & an Amazon Echo). I am lucky that my mother allowed me to store my stuff but she asked me to clean out the things I don’t use. Today I started with my old DVD collection and it hit me how my paradigm shifted from possessing irrelevant things. Below is what I thought…
WTF was I thinking buying all these DVD’s while I could have taken Wendy out for a movie.. And even worse, I have burdened the environment and now I am throwing them all out.. This makes no sense at all.
What does make sense for me nowadays is that I want to own less, rather spend my resources on meeting people in the communities I am involved in but don’t want to make a concession on consuming products or services. Honestly, I initially started questioning ownership because of the crazy monthly amount I have to pay for car insurance in Ireland, for a car which I have to sell with a high monetary loss (while I was a taxi driver to pay for college and never was in an accident, just saying).
So I started thinking how I could explain this paradigm shift in a way that makes sense for everyone? I decided to use Peter Diamandis Exponential Technology framework to try to explain how millennial consumers might think.
Exponential Technology framework
I don’t need to own DVD’s anymore because of services of Netflix or Hulu. For arguments sake I had 100 DVD’s x $ 10,00. Calculating back that’s a lot of months of Netflix. And I can watch whenever I want from any device or I go the movies with friends all within the same budget. Same logic goes for cars or tools as I will use an example later on.
Keep in mind that according to a study by Boston College in the next 25 years almost $41 trillion dollars is being transferred into the hands of this generation. A generation that has a smartphone as their personalized remote control to their world, 57% perceive access to a product/ service as ownership and 68% don’t mind sharing or renting out their belongings to others (according to PWC and Nielsen in 2014). Why this framework is helpful is because companies that understand that their products and services must comply with this framework to survive, and they do this because their millennial consumer demands it. It’s no longer about a product without a service, it’s about offering a service which in turn can help a millennial experience more and help them create a rich life (i.e. also creating an income).
Experiences shape my life
78% of millennials said they would rather spend their money on Experiences not ‘things’ – Eventbrite 2014
I agree with this point of view. Earlier this year I experimented with Airbnb to rent out a room or my apartment (of course the landlord did not appreciate this). And after getting used to it, I noticed I had no problem sharing a room because I am comfortable around people and this makes life more affordable. This is in line with 86% of the millennials who think like this (source: PWC). My personal point of view is that millennials need to own some big assets (e.g. house, specialized tools or a niche skill they can utilize in the gig economy) to generate income from them through the sharing and on demand economy as an (additional) stream of income as job security will decline in the next 15-20 years.These are the simple examples, but I think this will further innovate into renting a tuxedo from the stylish person from YouTube or Instagram, delicious take away from your Asian neighbour or having a washing machine installed by a manufacturer and pay per wash or kilo (including water and electricity).
Minimalism will no longer be a design trend but a way of life adopted by the majority of this world’s inhabitants. Hopefully we will move into this new paradigm quicker than we expect, from an environmental point of view we need to start thinking more consciously and circular when it comes to our possessions, the way we use it and think about the fact if we really need to own it all in the first place.
To enrich my life I have decided to own less and experience more.