How are you tailoring your business to cater to Millennials?

As Millennials Mature, Firm Future For Retail

Tom McGee , CONTRIBUTOR
I cover retail real estate and how the industry impacts communities

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
In less than three years, the oldest millennials turn 40. At that point, the biggest U.S. generation also gradually becomes the nation’s dominant consumers. As this group graduates to middle age, there are plenty of reasons for retailers to feel confident.

Millennials make up 27 percent of the global population, accounting for more than 80 million U.S. residents. Based on size alone, that’s a huge demographic opportunity for the economy. Take millennials and the younger Gen Z population together, nearly half the U.S. population, and it becomes clear that the future of consumer spending looks strong.

To turn those numbers into results, we have to understand how demographic and macroeconomic factors are creating unique pressures and future opportunities for the retail real estate industry.

We’ve had a challenging economic environment. Wages adjusted for inflation have been stagnant. Median household income is flat. Millennials spent their early adult years during the Great Recession, and the downturn erased tens of millions of jobs. As a result, many millennials are starting their careers a bit later. They also are getting married at an older age than their predecessors. And they have more than six times the amount of student loan debt as baby boomers.

These are big macro issues that affect the economy. They are also real challenges that will greatly influence what millennials buy, and how they spend their money.

Millennials were raised with the Internet and mobile devices. Technology allows them to access information, research products and connect with their friends in a way that no generation before them thought would be possible. But even in this digital age, Millennials place a premium on social interaction and experiences. They are health-conscious and service-oriented. You might find them working out in a small group training class, or spending on brands that support causes they believe in. What’s ultimately driving millennials buying behavior is a personalized, authentic experience.

The industry is adapting to these motivations by elevating its game, just as it’s done numerous times before. Retailers are delivering new experiences and services. The “athleisure” brand Lululemon, for instance, literally lays down yoga mats to offer in-store classes to customers. Malls are evolving too, bringing in more restaurant options, dine-in movie theaters and even fitness studios. As the CEO of Smoothie King shared recently, the numerous flavor combinations are as much about a state of mind as they are about taste. These decisions are lifestyle-driven, and show how retailers and developers are listening carefully to what consumers want to test and buy.

Millennials are knowledgeable, well-informed consumers. They’re the most educated generation in U.S. history. They are likely to have a higher household income than previous generations. And they’re focused on social good. As millennials settle down and reach their prime spending years, they’ll have the mindset and tools in place to sustain a healthy retail environment for decades to come.

Smithson to Compete for Miss Tennessee

Congratulations to one of our very own, Hillari Smithson, who is representing Parsons, Tennessee, as she competes for the opportunity to be crowned Miss Tennessee. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelors degree in Finance.
A Business Development Officer for Ascend Federal Credit Union, Hillari adopts the platform of the FUNdamentals of Finance, educating Tennessee’s youth and hopes to encourage decision makers to include financial literacy in K-12 curriculum across the state. Hillari has performed over 65 financial education seminars that have targeted over 2,000 attendees of all ages.

A career-driven young woman, Hillari is an active member of several chamber and nonprofit organizations state-wide and is an Ambassador with the Manchester Chamber. Hillari also serves as the Coffee County Young Professionals Vice- President and Leadership Development Chair. A passionate advocate for both Tullahoma and Manchester, she strongly abides by the purpose of CCYP – To connect, unite, and further develop young professionals into the best generation of leaders, knowing that when leaders are empowered, their community benefits most.

Good luck, Hillari! Your community will be cheering you on!

2017 CCYP Summit Wrap-up

It is, indeed, good to be alive right about now! The first-ever Coffee County YP Summit is in the books – and oh, what a day it was!

As expected, Amy Lynch, generational expert, gave a very inspirational keynote, helping us to recognize the unique gifts that each generation brings to the workplace. The tabletop discussions that followed illustrated that everyone in attendance had hung on every word. It was fun to laugh at the stereotypes and eye opening to take part in conversations with Millennials and Boomers (I’m a Gen Xer).

The afternoon sessions did not disappoint. After her quick rendition of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, Natalie Hughes, Ascend Federal Credit Union, gave a sobering presentation on financial principals taught and practiced by Dave Ramsey. Will Thomas, Exchange Media Group, showed us through his then and now Indy Racing example that being busy doesn’t equal being productive and gave us some common-sense strategies to minimize distractions. Carter Sain of Coffee County Bank reminded us that good leadership is based on good relationships and creating an environment where people want to be.

Christina Sheer, a marketing professional with Michael Hyatt & Company, donned in hot pink, no less, shared useful tips on branding ourselves with consistency for maximum impact. And as the day began to get long, Joe McKamey ignited the crowd with high-fives and an enthusiastic talk on launching his own legacy through running a small business in a small town.

A panel of young professionals including Taylor Rayfield of Coffee County Schools, Tisha Fritz of 93.9 The Duck/101.5 The Rooster, Hope Sartain of the Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce, and Bryan McAdams of Tullahoma Funeral Home, rounded out the agenda. Lane Yoder led the panel discussion on pursuing your passion through volunteerism.

My takeaway? Boy, we have a lot of talented people in this community! And there was a sense of unity in the room from the very beginning – we all seemed like friends, even almost like family. The energy was amazing!

So thank you, again, to Exchange Media Group, our presenting sponsor, for their vision to create an event to cultivate the skills and enthusiasm of the young professionals who will inevitably effect change and contribute meaningfully to Coffee County.

Thanks to all our supporting sponsors and to our exhibitors and speakers and to all who attended.

  • ~ Terri Hudson
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