Millennials. The generation who grew up during the era of the technology boom and never far from a computer, smartphone or tablet, are now coming of age in cities all across the U.S.. While often labeled as less engaged in civic duties as their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts, Millennials still have certain expectations when it comes to visiting or living in a new city. In order to connect with the next generation of travelers and/or residents, cities need to consider the following when trying to appeal to the Millennial consumer:
- Quality of Life Standards – What was considered important in respect to quality of life for past generations, does not necessarily apply to Millennials. The Gen Y crowd is interested in diversity and technologically advanced amenities including; widespread wifi capabilities, interactive signage and events that promote technological engagement.
- New thoughts around home ownership – Social media, the real estate crash of 2008 coupled with larger numbers of educated people among millennials, is reshaping the way cities build communities. While home ownership was once considered the “American Dream” for many, the Millennial generation is weary of long-term investments. When trying to attract a younger demographic, city planners should consider residential spaces that offer work/live capabilities, are close to transit, offer the latest advances in technology and allow residents to either rent or purchase.
- Connection to family – Due to the increased use of social media, Millennials are more connected to family as a result of and are more likely to want to live in close proximity to other family members. These developments will have a tremendous impact on revitalization of communities to accommodate the needs of Baby Boomers and their children.
- Money talks – Because many millennials came of age during the “great recession” of 2008, their ability to advance professionally or financially has been delayed in some instances. Most Millennials are looking to be in areas that offer job growth and affordable housing, but also allows them to buy and use all of the tech toys they covet.
As cities continue to grow, the millennial sub-set will undoubtably have a unique impact on economic development into the foreseeable future. Cities looking to grow and attract a younger demographic should look closely at the needs of the Millennial generation and plan accordingly, when appropriate.
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