15th September 2019

Ask a millennial

Stephanie Thomas

As a studio made up of predominantly millennials, we are (as an agency) well-placed to offer genuine insights as to what our age group wants.  It often surprises me how brands enter a market place with an offer that is targeted at millennials and yet they have missed the obvious trick of asking us if we will use, subscribe or buy into a product.

Assumptions do not work. We are a generation that, unlike our predecessors, are willing to spend more on products and services that streamline our life, give us flexibility and free up our time like never before. We are, on the one hand, entirely impressionable (just look at the rise of the influencer culture) and yet are more ethically conscious, curious and willing to question the status quo than ever before.

So how does this relate to property?

It comes as no shock (given the inflation of property prices) that buying is not on most twenty somethings radar. We have to rent. But note, it is still viewed as a means to an end. We still have the voice of our parents' generation ringing in our ear that renting is dead money and the only way to achieve true positive equity is to get on the property ladder. This mentality has not entirely changed and the assumption that those who buy are the ones who will benefit financially is still very much present.

That being said, there is an apparent shift in our mindset. As ‘that pesky generation that want it all and don’t want to work for it’, living somewhere cool is still paramount. We want that kudos from our comrades. Realistically, the only way that us twenty somethings would be able to buy is if we up sticks and move to the periphery – but then we compromise our lifestyle, a virtually incomprehensible thought. We are savvier than we are given credit for. While we may love avo toast and oat flat whites, we are the age group hit that were hit with the dramatic increase of tuition fees and are now laboured with debt. Why would we buy a property (and encumber further debt) to live somewhere entirely undesirable, sacrificing the very freedoms that we enjoy the most? The ambition of buying then becomes something we will perhaps do in our 30s until, eventually, it will be something we do not aspire to at all.

As a result, there is a real place for build-to-rent (BtR) in our lives. A space that would marry what we love doing the most, with the people we want to spend time with, in the places we want to be. The option to go to events but also the option to opt-out and chill. In a city that never stops, we really appreciate the time that we can. We don’t like forced fun, we like to feel in charge of our lives, with the freedom to do as we please. We want a home. We want value.

There we go again, wanting the best of everything! But let’s think about this for a second. Really all we are  asking for is the opportunity to collaborate on a space and a home that we would want to live in. If we are moving further and further away from the traditional expectation of buying, we won’t get the chance to create this ourselves. Developers may assume that we want a swimming pool, but in reality, we would take a bar and some social space instead. We don’t want high-end or inaccessible, nor do we want to pay for stuff that we won’t really use, these are alienating concepts. The trick here is to engage us. If we are the target market, then we will tell you how best to activate spaces and turn it into something that we want to be a part of. It is better value for money for both parties. Utilise forums, focus groups and research to get your substantiated insights, and then act on them. Don’t forget – we love sharing our opinion and we will become the biggest advocates of your brand if you listen!

If you would like to learn more contact Erin Rigg e.rigg@smallbackroom.co.uk