Friday, December 21, 2012

See the World - Millenial Materialism

I have written in the past about how I think millenials are making choices based on a different set of priorities than previous generations.  What was once considered the American Dream – a big house with a big, green lawn and a two car garage – just doesn’t seem to resonate with this generation.  What was once considered the epitome of a status symbol – a fancy new car - falls flat with us. Millenial Marketing writes that “[we] are making life choices based a broader definition of success and one that is more attuned to experiences than material goods.”  So, if we don’t define success the way our parents did, how do we define it?  What’s our American Dream?  I posit that, more than cars, houses, clothes, etc, we value travel.

A few days ago, I asked a question on my Facebook page – “What do you really want to do or have in the next 15 years?”  Within minutes I received two answers, both from millenials and both stating that they would like to travel.  Login to Facebook and check out your friends’ photos.  I’m willing to bet they do not share photos of items they own, rather they have album after album dedicated to their various trips. We are far prouder of our travels than we are of our belongings.  We get far more satisfaction out of an exotic dish shared on unfamiliar soil than we do out of expensive jewelry or hot new car.

My brother-in-law theorized that we have merely traded in one form of materialism for another.  Instead of hoarding up objects, we seek to hoard experiences.  We treasure them more for their worth as Facebook photos and bragging rights than we do for any recreational, spiritual, or intellectual value.  And I have to wonder if there is some truth to that…As children of the baby boomers, we saw first hand that stuff doesn’t buy happiness.  But, does travel? And, if we think it does, what does that mean for futures?  Luckily, the world is a big place, so I don’t anticipate running out of new experiences any time soon.  But, will there come a time when we face the diminishing returns that many of our parents have?  When a new exotic trip or tour just doesn’t excite us anymore…?  I hope not.  I’d like to think that this paradigm shift is a good one and I suppose as long as we continue to travel in an effort to enrich ourselves and not amass Facebook photos…we’ll be ok.


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