The Three Factors Driving A Mega-trend Revolution
Last year, 2020 will live in history as the year when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the United States.
This year, 2021 will live in history with record-setting highs in housing costs.
But what is going to evolve or the remainder of the 20s is much bigger … and the dynamics driving the change are taking place right in our midst.
There are three key change agents at work…
(1) The life-stage change of the largest generational group in the U.S. … the Millennials
(2) The dynamics of supply-side economics
(3) The integration of mobile technology into our day-to-day lifestyle and workplace
The Lifestage Change of the Millennials
I have written a lot about the Millennials. So have a lot of others.
They are the largest generation in the U.S. and are still continuing to grow.
The in-migration of Hispanic-Latinos into the U.S. gave the boost five years ago that pushed the Millennials to a size larger than their Boomer parents. And that boost has only grown in impact.
So is the mega-trend being fueled by their size?
In part, yes… but their character, personality and other demographic elements besides age are driving the marketplace too.
What drives us as humans more — our genetics or the environment in which we are raised?
We cannot divorce out of the mix that the Millennials were raised by Baby Boomers.
And while not all Baby Boomers followed the Rolling Stones and toked a joint and protested war and fought for women’s rights and celebrated Earth Day… but a lot of them did.
And many of them did it when they had their Millennial kids next to them.
There are many psychologists, sociologist and anthropologists who have earned tenures researching the impact of Boomers on their kids but many will quickly agree that Boomer parents instilled a strong sense of me-ism in the Millennial headset.
That me-ism drove the highest numbers to-date of college enrollment, apartment housing, working women in professional and management jobs and personal portrait home-pages.
And just as the media got itself addicted to the daily COVID-19 case counts, the Millennials went high-speed ahead into a major lifestage change… coupling, starting a homestead and making babies.
Many coupled and vacated their rental intown lofts for the the soon-to-be rehabbed houses complete with yard and garage that bore their personal signature of ownership.
Not only did they move out of the offices… but a good share did so intentionally to spend more time focused on the new homestead as well as their new Alpha Generation babies and pre-school kids.
Their ideals of peace, love and equality for all are nice rally points as well as their connection via texting and social media… but when Millennials face mowing the lawn, paying for the heat and air-conditioning, shopping for groceries with kids screaming to have it now and realizing that only part of the taxes they pay is dedicated to their kids’ education…. well peace, love and equality move to the back seat.
Social media time is replaced with cooking meals in the kitchen and playing with the kids. Texting is not easy to do when rocking kids to sleep or better yet, when stripping down the bed linens to clean the sheets from what the kids just did.
What is happening with Millennials is not a simple move. It’s a life change.
And given the fact that they are the largest generational group in the U.S., that change is a rattling the very foundation of the marketplace.
It is impacting grocery store and house & home retailer shelves. It is putting a constraint on the construction workforce. It is even affecting the demand for utilities… and I do not make that one up!
Which leads us over to the next major agent at work…
The Dynamics of Supply-Side Economics
When those with an MBA-headset see the phrase “supply-side economics,” they immediately translate it to cutting taxes.
The MBA-headset is fixated more on the relationship between business and government than the consumer and retail.
I have posted a lot on in past blogs of just how screwed up players in the marketplace have gotten by incorporating technology in management and taking simple human rational and emotions out of the mix.
The American retail marketplace has allowed linear technology to overtake human instinct.
The thinking set that purchasing is all rational and systematic is a systemic result of mistakenly integrating technology in the strategic headset of management and marketing!
If you have new demand for home furniture, paints and wallpaper, lawn mowers, cribs and diapers it screams in neon lights that retail supply needs to be beefed up.
If you have a new demand for new home inventory it screams to shift from building more apartments and begin to build more single-family homes.
If you have global conflicts messing up conventional relationships of trade and access to inventory business leadership sporting the MBA degrees should wake up and anchor down higher priority on establishing supplier relationships right here in the homeland.
Yes, we have faced the challenges of a Pandemic in the middle of it all, but the need for product right now… very specifically as it relates to house & home, food supply, educational support and family travel options is hot right now.
Aging Boomers too is increasing pressure on health & wellness products and healthy elements of food supply.
The evolution of the consumer marketplace and the demand for supply and access is a major trend factor that right now is challenging the staid historic brands to embrace perhaps the very roots of just what is the foundation of the brand.
The fact that Home Depot and Lowe’s struggle to get Millennials to stay loyal when the inventory is not available and Amazon now moving into actually building brick and mortar grocery stores should be grabbing the attention of C-level management as well as the young, innovative, post-pandemic entrepreneurs.
The digital store-fronts are now just part of the distribution mix. They are not replacing the physical store-fronts. In some cases, the mom & pop retailers are more hip than the digital storefronts.
High Tech and High Touch do co-exist… and if not in balance … self-correct.
If you happen to own business office buildings right now or sit in charge of a community’s economic development, the next major agent at work should be grabbing your attention too.
The Integration of Mobile Technology into Our Day-to-day Lifestyle & Workplace
There might be a few Millennials reading this that remember when businesses integrated in casual dress in the workplace.
Gone were the suits and ties and in were Khakis and even golf polo shirts…. maybe even jeans on Fridays!
I contend that there was actually a relationship dynamic between the advent and expansion of Starbucks and businesses adopting a casual dress code.
The impact of mobile technology is way, way more impacting the marketplace than many understand.
Many marketing firms continue to view the marketplace in a limited spectrum of digital and social media marketing. Many marketers continue to allocate large shares of their budgets to app development.
Very few in business leadership have a grasp on the big picture of what is taking place right before us.
Again, the Pandemic only highlighted and added a shot of caffeine to a mega-trend that was already in motion.
It’s not just conversation that is now mobile, but dialogues, relationships and even program development and implementation.
The impact of this mega-trend is way more complex than corporations allocated a day or two a week to work-at-home days.
The relationship of how employees interact — even how employment is being re-defined — is being re-configured.
The physical geographics of business operations are essentially being eliminated.
I am writing this blog in co-working space… space that real estate developers are blind not to be developing right now at record-pace!
Someone asked me at a Chamber of Commerce event if the Millennials I share the co-working space with are all in the process of trying to find permanent jobs or are just entrepreneurs trying to start their own businesses.
I laughed and said, no, they are actually working and interacting with other corporate employees that they manage and make $100K+ in doing so.
The physical constraints of business operations have been removed and employees today are just as liberated in how they interact with others as they are now free to wear casual clothes to work.
An article is running in today’s Wall Street Journal that highlights the growth of the suburbs and rapidly expanding “exurban” small towns.
The small town downtowns and the mom & pop store fronts and the made-from-scratch restaurants… are all coming back.
And while affordability is driving part of the migration, the liberation of workspace is even more so at work.
Where We Go Next…
These three trend factors together form a context that all business and community discussions need to embrace.
These are factors that will drive the marketplace over the course of the remainder of this decade. It’s a mega-trend that brands either embrace or get run-over and fall out of the mix.
The changes are societal, physical, economic and relational.
Technology is only an underlying factor … brands that embrace the grander scheme are the ones that will survive and win.
I am driven more today by the great opportunities ahead for the businesses that wake up to what is happening right smack in their midst.