Millennials are obsessed with the 'style of life' --  and it's killing retailers

Millennials coachellaFrazer Harrison/Getty ImagesMillennial revelers at the 2016 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival.

Retailers are obsessed with trying to figure out how to cater to millennials.

There’s more of them, so naturally, it’s the smart move to appeal to them, right?


Retail expert Robin Lewis brought up a crucial point about millennials’ spending patterns and the risk that this poses to the industry on his blog, The Robin Report.

Here’s what Lewis said (emphasis added)

So add to the over-saturated market, the millennial generation. This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life. This is a big threat to retail. They’re not into a lot of shopping, which is why the malls are floundering. Plus they can find anything they want on their phones. In a macro sense, like in the book The Demographic Cliff the developed world is getting older, and the younger demographic isn’t big enough to replace them. The world is going into a recession because you don’t have enough young people coming into it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that catering to millennials is for naught.

Recently, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told Business Insider that catering to millennials (and teens) is not the smartest move for retailers; she said they’d rather spend their money on phones, for the most part. (Nike and Lululemon are two brands she said that have managed to capture young consumers.)

“They’re frugal and that’s where they’re spending all their money. There’s no more disposable income left for anybody else,” Mulpuru said to Business Insider in May.

So why are retailers so obsessed with millennials, then?

Mulpuru said that it’s because people are obsessed with youth — they always have been, always will be.

“It’s obsession with youth,” Mulpuru explained “and a large part of it is dates back to very old 1970s approaches to marketing where … there was this belief that there was this long, lifetime value associated with customers, and if you could get a customer early you would just have them forever.”

Click here for the full conversation between Lewis and Pendl on The Robin Report.

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