I don’t know what fabric softener is. I mean, I can reasonably deduce its purpose from its name, but I have never sought, purchased, or used fabric softener. None of my clothing feels scratchy or hard enough that I’m uncomfortable or else I wouldn’t have bought it to begin with. I wonder, at what ancient point in history was clothing so stiff that one would need to buy a product to soften it rather than purchase a cozier item in the first place?
Millennials like me are ditching products and practices that our parents’ generation coveted. As retailers innovate and look toward the future of goods and services, it’s time to evaluate the things millennials are purging:
Never in my wildest nightmares would I waste my money on napkins, whether paper or fabric. A napkin is like a dollar bill that I use to wipe spaghetti sauce off of my face then throw it into the trash. To most millennials, napkins are a waste of money and are typically reserved for older family members who host Thanksgiving dinner. Paper towels serve the purpose of a napkin and can also be used on surfaces and floors. Because there is a better, more useful alternative, millennials have little need for this paper good.
And like napkins, millennials have no desire to own or inherit fine china, the expensive, ugly, porcelain heirlooms. Even the name is outdated and borderline racist; we don’t refer to paper plates and Solo Cups as “America”.
Whenever I’m instructed to print something, I have a minor panic attack. Millennials don’t own printers, and if they do, they can’t get them to work properly. If I need something to be printed, I stress out about it, forget about it, remember it (but knowingly put it off until a few days after it was due), and then do everything in my power to submit the item online rather than actually print it.
It’s also no secret that millennials are forgoing cable. With access to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (from our parents’ subscriptions), we have no need for cable packages. This has contributed to my disdain for the movie theater. I used to live near a premium movie theater, at which one could pay a small fortune to sit on a reclining seat slightly less comfortable than his own couch and be served dinner slightly less delicious than her neighborhood pizza joint. Millennials are not willing to regularly spend their paycheck on movies in the theater when they can enjoy the same movies at home for less money and effort.
Additionally, alarms have become an anachronism. Our phones have built-in, reliable alarm clocks that we can program to avoid setting every night. Alarms and alarm music systems are relics of the past.
People, Places, & Things
I regularly use search engines to find services. I prefer to use a search engine rather than blindly trust a commercial or advertisement because I can read reviews and look at pictures. I typically search online for a nearby hair salon, auto body shop, or groomer, read a few reviews, then look at their website. But at that point, if the website does not allow access to online booking, I move on. I will not call to schedule an appointment because I absolutely detest speaking to strangers on the phone — as do so many millennials who grew up with the ability to chat online, thereby evading the now obsolete family landline greeting: “Hi, Mrs. Appleseed, may I please speak to Johnny?” — so I avoid it at all costs. I will even give my business to a company with worse reviews provided they have online booking.
Social Norms & Niceties
Millennial couples are less likely to get married than previous generations, and the ones who are walking down the aisle are doing so differently than their parents. Young couples are beginning to break the standard protocols for weddings and are freeing themselves of formal traditions like bridal parties donning matching attire (or having bridal parties at all) and brides forgoing their veils. Many feminist millennial women want to keep their last name and claim the title Ms. rather than Mrs.
Millennials are also decidedly against sending cards. We tend to think that cards are generally lengthy, inconvenient ways to send messages that otherwise could be sent by text or email. Because many of us move so frequently and have changing addresses, cards are increasingly challenging to send. Many members of Generation Z, our younger tech-native successors, have never mailed letters in their lives!
I don’t know if I’ll ever buy traditional milk again. I have nothing specifically against milk, but I tend to drink less dairy than I did when I was younger. Instead, I enjoy milk alternatives like macadamia milk and oat milk (both far superior to the lesser almond milk, in my opinion). Many millennials have chosen to cut back on dairy for skin and dietary reasons, so milk is out.
Soda, too, has become a drink of yore. Nothing made me happier than an orange soda as a child, but it later felt sinful as I grew up. Other than minimal use for an occasional mixed drink, you won’t find soda in many millennial refrigerators.
Despite the amount of celebrities and models who claim the secret to their flawless, ageless skin is water, we won’t be spending our money at the gas station to buy it in a plastic container. Our environmentally conscious generation doesn’t typically purchase plastic water bottles, and we’re not buying into the cardboard or canned water marketing. We have our ridiculously expensive, heavy canteens and insulated water bottles to lug everywhere we go!
Inside my wallet I keep my debit and credit cards, a couple expired gift cards, my insurance cards, and some crumbled up wrappers. What I do not keep inside my wallet is cash. I rarely have a dollar to spare. Nearly all of the parking meters take cards or have apps, so I don’t need cash for those. I never ride in taxis when I have access to ride-sharing services, so my need for cash is reduced to tipping, which I strongly prefer to do through an online banking app. For millennials, physical cash for tipping is inconvenient. And because there are so many methods to pay for goods through apps, my guess is that physical wallets will be one of the next items millennials will relinquish.
-The Soph in Sophelle, 8/10/2020
Retail is transforming, how we consume is evolving, and “normal” will never be the same. For a Millennial’s outlook on retail in the age of COVID read The Soph’s take on all things retail.