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A New, Millennial America

A changing of America's cultural tide

June 16, 2017
A millennial representing cultural shift

There’s a profound demographic shift in American culture. Its origin? Millennials. While there’s some debate about the exact birth years for this generation, Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1982 and 2004. 

In thinking about this group in the context of the remodeling market, there are a number of important factors to consider: 

1. Millennials are many. Based on 2015 Census data (the latest available), there are 75.4 Millennials in the U.S., compared with 74.9 million Baby Boomers. 

2. Millennials are more diverse. While Baby Boomers are 75 percent white, and 35-to-54-year-olds are 61.5 percent white, Millennials—those aged between 18 and 34—are 55.8 percent white and make up 43 percent of the primary working-age minority population, according to a report from research group the Brookings Institution

3. Millennials have a more abstract worldview. As a group, this demographic thinks in less concrete terms. For instance, when defining diversity, a survey from professional services firm Deloitte found that the majority of Millennials tend to contextualize individuals by their experiences, identities, ideas, and opinions, whereas preceding generations tend to frame the idea of diversity in terms of social, economic, and other observable demographic characteristics. 

Whereas 1 and 2 above help remodelers understand the significance of Millennials, No. 3 is important in terms of insights into how this group thinks and operates—which is differently. 

For one, Millennials want more social accountability. In its Global Corporate Sustainability Report, reasearchers from market research company Nielsen found that 73 percent of Millennials (compared with 66 percent of consumers overall) will spend more on products that come from a brand that promotes sustainability. Furthermore, a study from marketing firm Cone Communications found that 91 percent of Millennials would switch brands if it meant moving to one associated with a cause, while 62 percent of this group (compared with 56 percent of consumers overall) would take a pay cut to work for a more socially responsible company.

Quality, service, convenience, and paychecks still matter to Millennials—just as social responsibility still matters to most Americans—but how they’re prioritized differs. And even though studies have shown that difference to be slight, it affects how businesses, including remodeling companies, approach and interact with customers. 

“There’s so much out there about mindfulness, yoga, energy, happiness—those are the buzzwords of the day, yes, but I also don’t think they’re going away,” says Synergy Design & Construction co-owner Mina Fies, who explains that America’s culture has moved beyond simply defining yourself by your job title or car. “People ... want more in their lives, and so they look for more. And that goes into your experience with a renovation.” 

About the Author

About the Author

James McClister is managing editor for Professional Remodeler.

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