11 things millennials do completely differently from their parents

Eugenio Marongiu/ShutterstockMillennials and baby boomers are worlds apart. This much-maligned generation is changing life as we know it.
  • The millennial generation generally includes people born between 1981 and 1996.
  • Through their sheer size, they have affected industries such as fast food, fast fashion, and higher education.
  • They parent differently from their parents – and run their lives differently too.

Everyone loves to hate millennials.

The Pew Research Center recently defined this generation as people born between 1981 and 1996. And boy, are they shaking things up.

They’re killing industries left and right, from napkins to diamond rings. They’re marrying later and starting nontraditional families. Those rascals!

Below, we rounded up some of millennials’ most significant departures from tradition – “tradition” being the way their parents did things. Read on to find out how this much-maligned generation is changing life as we know it.


Instead of preparing meals, millennials are more likely to order takeout.

frantic00/Shutterstock

The food industry is responding to major shifts in the way young people eat.

Business Insider’s Akin Oyedele reported that millennials spent the least amount of time on meal preparation compared with older generations. Instead, they’re more likely to eat at restaurants, pick up prepared meals, or order delivery.


Instead of drinking beer, millennials prefer wine and spirits.

David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Millennials are drinking less alcohol than older generations in general. But when they do drink, they prefer wine and spirits to beer.

Citing Nielsen data, Business Insider’s Kate Taylor reported that beer penetration in the US market fell by 1% from 2016 to 2017 while wine and spirits stayed the same. UBS and Goldman Sachs have also found that millennials are less interested than previous generations in beer.


Instead of attending lectures, millennials want to learn online.

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

It’s screens versus lectures.

Business Insider reported on a survey in which 69% of people 18 to 34 years old said they thought they learned more from technology than from people, compared with 50% of people older than 45 who said the same.

And there’s evidence that Generation Z – those born after millennials – could be even more disinclined to pursue higher education, especially to avoid falling into debt.


Instead of keeping their salary secret, millennials may share it with coworkers.

Money is becoming less taboo.

Business Insider previously reported that millennials were more likely than older generations to discuss their salary with coworkers, family, and friends.

One recent survey found that 30% of millennials (defined as ages 18 to 36) said they had discussed their pay with coworkers, compared with just 8% of baby boomers (ages 53 to 71).


Instead of waiting for an annual performance review, millennials crave more frequent feedback.

The annual performance review is slowly disappearing.

IBM, for example, ditched it for a system called Checkpoint, through which feedback is given on at least a quarterly basis. The company also uses an app called ACE to facilitate a more casual, ongoing dialogue among employees.

Experts say these changes reflect a shift in how millennials think about delivering and receiving feedback.

Samantha Klein, a former representative of IBM’s Millennial Corps, told Business Insider that millennials “don’t want an annual review.”

“We don’t want to wait until the end of the year to hear about what we’ve done right or wrong what we can improve upon,” Klein said.


Instead of moving in together after getting married, many millennials cohabitate before.

For many young adults today, a key comes before a ring.

One survey found that 72% of millennials believe cohabitation before marriage is a good idea, compared with 63% of baby boomers.

INSIDER’s Kim Renfro reported that some sociologists think there could be a link between declining divorce rates and more people deciding to live together before marriage. Presumably, that’s because people have a longer window of time to realise whether they’re compatible.


Instead of buying starter homes, millennials are waiting until they can afford bigger houses.

Yes, millennials are interested in buying homes, just like previous generations. But they’re renting longer, waiting it out until they can afford the real deal.

On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of the real-estate website and app Zillow, broke it down for our US editor-in-chief, Alyson Shontell:

“Homebuilders really only build high-end houses now. It’s very difficult for a builder to get it to pencil to build a 2,500-square-foot, 2,000-square-foot, 1,500-square-foot starter home, because they can just make so much more money building a 6,000-square-foot-plus home.”

As a result, Rascoff said, home prices shoot up, leaving minimal inventory at the middle and low end of the housing market – and causing many millennials end up renting into their 30s.


Instead of moving into golf communities, rich millennials are joining “agrihoods.”

That’s short for “agricultural neighbourhoods.”

Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback reported that “agrihoods could become the 21st-century version of those tony golf communities baby boomers flocked to in the 1990s.”

Experts say that’s because millennials may be more interested than older generations in societal impact – and agrihoods are designed to help them do good for the environment and their community.


Instead of asking friends and family for parenting advice, millennials turn to Google.

Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

Paging Dr. Google!

Millennial parents, a group The New York Times labelled “parennials,” are less likely to turn to friends and family for advice than older generations. Instead, they search for answers themselves online.

Depending on how you look at it, that can be a good thing in that they’re highly informed – or a bad thing in that so much information can be overwhelming.


Instead of traditional asset classes, millennials are investing in more-sophisticated assets.

Sarah Jacobs

Many millennials came of age during the 2008 financial crisis. As Oyedele pointed out, they have “memories of traditional asset classes like stocks cratering and retirement savings being wiped out.”

That’s most likely why, according to a US Trust survey, millennials are more interested in “sophisticated” assets like structured products, venture capital, and private equity.

That way, they can hit their near-term financial goals (think: paying down debt) and invest in companies that do good for society – two common objectives among millennials.


Instead of shopping at department stores, millennials are dressing in so-called fast fashion.

Sayonara, Sears – plus Kmart and Macy’s. All three chains are closing stores, Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson has reported.

Business Insider’s Kate Taylor reported that the closures are partly due to millennials not buying from aspirational, designer brands but from private-label lines and fast-fashion brands like H&M and Zara.

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