ITHINK I GOT A COMPLIMENT THE OTHER DAY. A close friend said that inter- net shopping is perfect for me. As a collector of sports memorabilia and Americana, online shopping gives me
access to stores and companies that I simply would never have heard about in the old
days—all done from the
comfort of my own desk
at home or work.
I am in my 50s and
certainly not part of the
Meanwhile, not a television business show
goes by without some
talking head mentioning how important
Millennials, those people
born between 1980 and
2000, are to the overall economy and, more
importantly, how they think, act and shop differently than their parents and grandparents.
Many say that businesses, including those
that operate on Main Street, must treat this
generation differently. They go by their
own set of rules and are looking for retailers
that cater to their specialized demands and
desires, including a stronger push for natu-
ral merchandise. Woe be the merchant who
does not cuddle up to this emerging group
Well, I am not buying in.
I remember back in the day that people—
and by that I mean the older generations
at the time—talked about my generation,
the Baby Boomers, in much the same way.
We were different, hard to categorize, more
willing to investigate the products we consumed and we wanted better things from
the world, including healthier products.
With the notable exception of internet
shopping, I believe that Millennials are acting as all previous generations acted when
they were in their late teens, twenties and
early thirties. That is, they are in a state of
perpetual denial, always looking for a better
way and committed to following a different
path than their parents, usually just because
it is different.
That is what young people do. As all par-
ents understand, we do not really know
much in the eyes of our children, who think
they have life all figured out and that their
approach is not only the best way, but the
only way. Of course, as they age and take on
more responsibilities, especially when they
become parents, it is incredible how that all
From this angle, the talk of Millennials
being different than previous generations is
all a bunch of hullaballoo created by consul-
tants and marketing companies looking for
their next paycheck. Remember Y2K and the
pricey commotion they caused over that?
Somebody got rich over that non-event.
The bottom line is that consumers have
always shopped differently depending on
their age and family status. The younger
ones, today the 75-million strong Millennials,
who perhaps have more free time and dis-
posable income on their hands, will always
be asking more questions and pushing the
envelope. That is what young people do.
In time, though, they will realize that they
are much more similar to their parents than
they thought and their shopping behavior
will begin to change. Retailers, meanwhile,
can continue to create a shopping experience that is designed to give all their consumers the right merchandise, at the right
price, in the right setting.
Eventually everyone comes around.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
A MILLENNIAL BY ANY OTHER NAME
As they get older, Millennials will begin to realize they are not that much different from the
generations that precede them.
By Seth Mendelson
Seth Mendelson is publisher
and editorial director of Grocery