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Why are millennials killing everything?

Why are millennials killing everything?

Every other day it seems that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are accused of “killing” something. But are they really changing the culture more than any other generation before them? “Every generation engages in a process of looking at the world around them, seeing what’s there that they want to continue and where they want to refocus,” says culinary historian and Root Kitchens founder Julia Skinner. Millennials may simply be getting blamed for the natural order of how things change and because they are soon to be the largest generation, their effects are readily apparent. Yet, “millennials aren’t killing industries; industries have failed to adapt,” says Rachel Flehinger, principal of the US ‘Adulting School’ in Maine, which teaches twenty-somethings life skills like meal planning, home repair and personal finance.

Hating on millennials has become so popular that headlines pointing out trends in their choices have also become irresistible click-bait. “Because we all live in a much more connected world than before, I wonder if we’re having these conversations around ‘killing’ stuff just because we’re more aware of the shifts in our collective environment and are aware of them in real-time,” Skinner says. “For me, having the conversation of people ‘killing’ certain products focuses on the wrong things – instead of looking at what is happening, I’m interested in why people make the choices they do. What cultural contexts are informing their choices?” Let’s take a look.

Napkins

Napkins

Oh, those lazy millennials, so lacking in table manners everyone should know by now. For example, they believe there’s no point in buying napkins when you can just use paper towels – don’t they work just as well? Fair point, but many criticised millennials for killing the napkin industry when one study, as reported by the Washington Post, found that only 56 percent of those surveyed bought napkins in the past six months, but 86 percent bought paper towels. Sure, paper towels are less formal, but millennials just don’t go in for formality: Instead, for them, convenience is key.

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Formal dress codes

Formal dress codes

Speaking of formality, we’re not living in Downton Abbey – no one of any generation gets formally dressed for dinner anymore. Even at work, formal attire has been in flux since women entered the workforce in the 1920s. Although today some industries still require a suit, most others are decidedly less formal, throwing off the controlling dress codes of the past to allow for more personality and creativity to show through. According to one survey, 40 percent of millennials look to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, famous for wearing hoodies, jeans and T-shirts, as their business role model. Millennials are changing the workplace and everyone’s better off for it. Ironically, though, new expectations might mean you’ll still be judged on your work attire – just now, it’s based on your clothes’ “cool” factor.

Casual dining restaurants

Casual dining restaurants

Even if millennials are dressing casually for dinner, that doesn’t mean they actually want to eat at casual dining chains. Australians are eating healthier and moving towards quality over quantity, resulting in a decline in the popularity of casual chains such as Hog’s Breath Cafe, Michel’s Patisserie and Pizza Hut. With so many more options – including those that are faster, healthier and maybe even shipped to your door – diners are simply eating elsewhere. Millennials are cooking at home more – they’re broke, they want better ingredients such as organic and non-GMO, more convenience and they care about supporting local independent businesses.

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Large homes

Large homes

And millennials just aren’t able to buy that big house in the suburbs. “Homeownership rates are lower than in previous generations – among other things, you can blame student debt and high prices in coastal cities where the best jobs are found,” says Miron Lulic, founder and CEO of SuperMoney. “For a generation that is often portrayed as privileged, the millennial population is bearing an unprecedented burden of cost inflation: While real income has increased moderately for some (namely, the university-educated), it’s nowhere near enough to keep up with the burden of cost inflation in key areas like homes.” Plus, as priorities shift away from consumption to convenience, environmentalism and a minimalist lifestyle, forgoing the McMansions seems preferable.

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Traditional marriage

Traditional marriage

Millennials are not only putting off buying houses: They’re putting off – or never – getting hitched, too. According to the Pew Research Center, the trend toward getting married later in life has been going on for two generations and millennials are continuing it: Forty-six percent of millennials ages 25 to 37 are married, compared to 67 percent of Baby Boomers and 57 percent of GenXers at the same age. Part of this may be economic, as millennials just aren’t as financially secure until later in life. But it also might be a case of shifting priorities, as a record-high number of young people today, one in four, is estimated to never marry (although they may cohabitate).

Divorce

Divorce

It appears millennials aren’t just ruining marriage – they’re ruining divorce, too. Recent data found the divorce rate dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016. “A traditional finding in the research on marriage stability is that age at first marriage is related to the likelihood of divorce,” says Pew Research Center senior researcher Richard Fry. “Marriages involving younger spouses were more likely to break up.” Sorry/not sorry, divorce attorneys: One of the secrets about marriage is that tying the knot later seems to equal fewer divorces.

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Pricey engagement rings

Pricey engagement rings

Fewer marriages means fewer fancy weddings and fewer expensive rocks, too. This also reflects millennials’ changing priorities away from material possessions. “Millennials aren’t about tradition for tradition’s sake – diamonds equal love? They don’t necessarily buy that,” Flehinger says. Plus, “millennials shop with a conscious – they are aware and their dollars show it,” Flehinger says. “They know about blood diamonds (diamonds mined to finance wars) and their dollars reflect that. Diamonds (both mining and lab-grown) are bad for the environment – they care about that, too.”

Millennials also have financial concerns on shelling out the cash necessary for the stones, especially since more are paying for their own weddings: One survey found younger Australians think an engagement ring should cost under $3000, which is 20% less than the national average in 2015.

Dinner date

Dinner date

If millennials aren’t getting engaged, are they at least dating? Not in the same way young adults used to. But the trend away from dinner dates makes sense: Who wants to sit across from a stranger for two hours, especially when you’re broke and the food you’re eating is more expensive than just having a drink or a coffee? Plus, because online dating has become more common and acceptable according to trend research, more millennial daters haven’t actually met face to face before, making dinner dates even more potentially awkward. And being single is just not as big a deal, with a survey from online dating app Tinder finding 72 percent of young millennials made a conscious decision to stay single for a period of time.

Traditional hotels

Traditional hotels

When was the last time you unpacked your clothes into the hotel dresser, used the tub in your hotel bathroom (eww!) or sat down at your room’s desk to use the complimentary pen and stationery? Today’s hotel chains are struggling to keep up with millennials who just want a comfy bed to sleep in, plus a communal space to hang out with other guests. This is how millennials will be traveling in the future. In addition, millennials are gravitating toward trendy boutique hotels that provide a unique, authentic atmosphere that chain hotels don’t; or an AirBnB that offers cost savings.

Make sure you know these secrets that hotels won’t tell you.

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