Millennials shaping the world
Source: Unsplash

Blaming millennials for everything, from the end of the napkin industry to rainbow bagels and other food fads, is pretty commonplace. You’ll even find a few millennial-themed casino online games like Microgaming’s slot Le Kaffee Bar that features hipster coffee and artisanal cupcakes!

To be fair, in some ways millennials are simply too much. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re a powerful economic and social group that has altered the world in ways that were unimaginable ten years ago.

These individuals, also known as Generation Y and born between 1980 and 1996, were the first to really understand, embrace and even take for granted the connectivity and access that the Internet makes possible. That does make them demand more, but also makes them more understanding.

A millennial will expect a restaurant chef to perform well in their kitchen, for instance, but will understand if said chef takes a mental health day. They’ll also want the restaurant to support fair trade produce and to employ a diverse group of people. Read on for more details of how millennials have changed the world to make it their own.

Marrying Later in Life

A lot of Generation Y has first-hand experience of divorce. Growing up in broken homes has scarred them, and made them understandably wary of making this commitment themselves. Along with the increase in student and other debt that millennials find themselves saddled with, this has caused most of them to marry later in life, or not at all.

They’re embracing same-sex marriage and questioning the traditional nuclear family more than any generation has before, and it’s estimated that 25% will never tie the knot. The 75% that do will be around 4 years older than they would have been 40 years ago. Holding back until they’re more established in life seems to be working; the United States divorce rate has declined by 24% since the 1980s.

Changing the Face of Retail

Shopping in physical stores is stressful, and buying material goods is generally bad for the environment. These are big issues for your average Gen Y individual. Now that the World Health Organisation has legitimised burnout by classifying it as a syndrome, millennials are getting even more honest about their struggles with overworking and the depression that it brings.

Being around crowds of people in that frazzled state of mind can be a recipe for disaster, and buying online is also a lot more convenient. The 25-to-39 age bracket is also choosing experiences over physical items, causing many retailers to shut down or rethink their marketing strategies. A lot of online stores have worked hard at making themselves more mobile-friendly, since Generation Y does most of its spending via smartphone.

Making Luxury More Accessible

The other notable aspect of not buying so many material things is that millennials are now renting them instead. Brands that would be completely out of reach for a generation drowning in unpaid student loans are now just a few rental fees away.

These individuals are also adding a casual touch to luxury, even at formal fine-dining restaurants. Think expensive trainers on the rich young Silicon Valley entrepreneur – another stereotype that Gen Y has blessed us with – and you’ll see what we mean.

Living life on social media
Source: Unsplash

Investing More in Health

How can you enjoy all the experiences you’re spending your money on if you are not in peak physical condition? Health is increasingly seen as a status symbol, with many millennials spending more on gym memberships and oxygen treatments than they do on paying that infamous student debt back.

In other words, they’re key players in the booming wellness industry. Athleisure clothing (especially the luxury kind – see previous point), training sessions and even accessories like towels and water bottles are now hot commodities. Those providing exclusive services to the upper 1% are seeing a surge in demand for vitamin IV drips, cryofacials and other treatments, and exclusive retreats.

Demanding More From Technology

When some of these adults were kids, their home computers ran on DOS, if they even had a computer of course. In their own short lifetimes, they’ve seen connectivity go from a noisy dial-up connection to smooth and seamless fibre. They know what technology can do, and they’ve witnessed how fast it can develop. Of course they demand more.

Start-ups are huge among millennials, and have become vital economic forces. When they needed a better way to hail a cab, Uber was born. Dating apps like Hinge and Tinder help them find love. Online therapists are now commonplace. Whatever is needed, technology innovators can step up to provide. And don’t even get us started on smart homes.

Asking More of Their Jobs

Millennials don’t only expect more from the technology that is supposed to make their lives easier; they also demand higher standards from their careers. They want them to have flexible hours, and offer student debt payment support, for starters. On top of that, work is a way for them to be the change they want to see in the world; they’re looking for companies with values that are in line with their own.

Destigmatising Taboo Subjects

Mental illness, money issues and other previously sticky subjects are common in Generation Y’s everyday conversations as they embrace and understand the struggles that different people go through. Apps catering to this, such as mental support tools and budget trackers, are earning their developers a pretty penny.

Weaving Social Media Into Their Lives

The lives of millennials are very visible today. YouTube and Instagram influencers are ousting magazines as the main forces shaping fashion and lifestyle trends, creating viable careers for thousands. Keeping up with what people are doing via social media is totally ubiquitous, and even travel destinations are chosen based on their “Instagrammability”. Living like this is the new normal, both driving and being driven by millennials.