Monday, February 27, 2012

Millennial Home Making

The EXPERIENCE 2012 TRENDCAST Report notes…Millennials are discovering that they may have to actually revamp and invent ways to define their home-base.

The current issue of Dwell Magazine showcases how two Millennials created their new homes.

They found very cheap loft warehouse space and actually live in 10’x10’ wooden “rooms” they purchased at a Big Box retailer. 

They heat the boxes independently and use a community bath located down the hall.

Key to the space is that they have wireless Internet that they can access when working on the pic-nic tables or when curled up in their goose-down sleeping bags from IKEA.

Here are some observations of how other Millennials are making space function as their home…

Space is a neutral requirement and in some ways, the smaller, the better.

The demand for reasonably-priced new urban housing has driven unit sizes down in comparison to historic trends, so rents remain affordable to middle-income earners. 

The average new two bedroom apartment being built post-Great Recession is in the 800-950 square foot range, compared to 1,000 to 1,200 square feet back before 2009… and it has more to do with demand than construction financials.

In fact, two thirds of Millennials surveyed by American Multifamily, a California Developer, said they prefer a studio apartment to a roommate situation. 

Pre-set room use and labels are out and space flexibility is hip.

Terms previous generations used like “family room,” “master bedroom,” “dining room” and “study” are out.  

Keeping Room is an oxymoron. 

Flexible floor plans are gaining ground, with studios and “convertible” one bedrooms among the most popular unit types in new urban developments.

Furniture is quickly following suit as well with work-stations that also serve as entertainment centers and sofas that convert quickly (and easily) to sleep space. 

Last night HGTV aired a segment on making a study both a home office and hobby room. 

In some ways, Millennials might have received great counsel from their Boomer parents who were the first to make the dining room do double duty as the billiard parlor with the aid of a nice 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood.

Fido is not only the Millennial parent’s replacement-child, but also the preferred partner of choice among the Millennials.

Only a few years ago, dogs were banned from many apartment buildings. 

Now, renting and pet ownership go hand-in-hand, because renters are no longer willing to wait until they “move to the suburbs and settle down” to start living. 

Pet space – complete with bedding and automatic water bowls – may be even more important than true bedroom space.

Private pet parks will be one of the main outdoor attractions at many “leased home space” developments.

Some “transitional” neighborhoods are engaging in heated debate whether it is more important for a park to have pet space or the kids play-grounds.

My vote is for the pet space.

Work is inseparable from home-life…and visa versa!

High technology connections are great… free Internet access gets Millennials to sign the lease contract.

Gym space is nice, but onsite free internet cafes complete with lattes and juice bars are more important.

Conference rooms mean little.  Communal workspace translates to social comfort.

Many Millennials think nothing of working accounting Excel files, texting their Facebook friends and sipping on an apple-carrot-Red Bull smoothie at the same time.

Car space is a secondary priority.

Millennials prefer to drive less or take public transportation.

Two- and Three-car garage space is not even a concept in many Millennial mindsets. 

Bicycle space and bike racks are more important. 

Residents who bike or walk to work instead of commuting by car can pocket an extra $7,500 to $12,500 per year… and perhaps even more in 2012 as gas prices continue to climb!

Proximity to hourly car rental stations is more of a deciding factor of where to live in the cities.  

A place to park the car is more important in the burbs… and proximity to an electrical charging plug is more important than electronic garage door openers.

What does it mean for marketers?

While Millennials may mature like older generations and buy houses in the suburbs, they may not. 

Time will answer questions about the housing demand from the Millennial generation, and what type of housing they’ll prefer. 

For now, everyone from the real estate developers to the home good retailers should pay attention how these 20-somethings and early 30-somethings think. 

Their Boomer parents changed the business models… and no question their kids -- the Millennials -- will too!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Learnings From The Political Race

I write and talk a lot about generational groups.

Maybe it’s because I am a Boomer myself that I seem to feel a calling to report what I observe.  Boomers get a rush out of “discovery” observations!

Sitting here post the Nevada primary, I cannot overlook a set of observations.

Whether you support him or not, clearly Obama pitted the Millennials against the Boomers. 

He rallied them with tapping into their social media and online sites.  More on those stats later…

I would probably also give him an “A” because he raised the bar above rational thought and tapped instead into the Millennial emotions of “change.”

I am first to say I would NOT give Obama an “A” for achievement.

Here are three armchair observations…

(1) Throwing Stones

We have two MBA-headset Republicans that have reverted to the “who can accuse the other the most” paradigm of the past. 

Forget the brand platform.  Forget the emotional drives. 

Bring back the Coke-Pepsi model and shoot from the hip.

The boys are back to fighting it out in the parking lot.

One thing for sure… the boys are not alone… many brands cling onto the same approach. 

You simply do not want to be one of them.

(2) Watch as the dissenters unite

Alternative brands that challenge convention continue to rattle the marketplace. 

All you have to do is turn on your television set and count how many of the top programs are “real time TV” versus “planned series.”

From Apple to MINI to Red Bull to Chipotle, alternative brands are posting higher “Q-Scores” (awareness and likeability) than the staid, giant brands of the past.

While Romney may believe he has the lead… many of the alternative candidates from Sarah Palin to Hermann Cain are uniting behind an alternative candidate. 

I hope that at some point, the boys stop throwing the food across the table, step back and think about what happened in the 2010 Election Year.

(3) Dwelling in the past

When brands have limited distinctive elements to communicate about their personality, you start seeing ads either…
(a)  Scattered with words like “quality,” “accessibility” and “value”
(b)  Showcasing their “made in America” roots

In addition to the message, the communications media mix reverts back to the “mass media” paradigm… the more I spend on top rated TV, the more likely I will be elected.

Forget the interactive media… reaching 70%+ at least 4 or more times, will get voters to switch.

Its not like Obama doesn’t forget things too… as far as his promises are concerned and his two years of total congressional control… but Obama did reach beyond the old model of mass media and bond with his voter block through social media.

Here is where Obama’s Facebook following stands today… Sunday February 5th, 2012…24,878,080 members.  Nearly 25 MILLION members. 

His claims to be “in control” might just have some merit.

While the First Lady has less… it ain’t bad either… 6,488,949.

Okay… they’ve been campaigning before, but they still have a sizable lead…
Sarah Palin has 3,269,031 members and Mit Romney has 1,409,501.

Mit probably needs to bring on a Social Media VP to assist in combating Obama among the Twitter-clickers.

Romney clearly is ahead of the pack with social media… here are the other three still in the race:
** Newt -- 265,933
** Santorum -- 96,139
** Ron Paul -- 814,376

The line that Ron Paul has a devoted few is well illustrated in his membership numbers.

Bob Dole came out a few days ago tearing down Newt Gingrich.  Too bad Newt’s campaign guy didn’t go back against dear Old Bob and say the guy is history. 

Bob Dole’s Facebook membership is 2,486.  I heard that the dial-up Internet access really moves slow on the social media sites.


The way I will end this blog post is simply to say… there are a lot of lessons to learn from watching the politicians. 

But… if I were teaching a marketing class as I write this, I would tell those Millennial graduate students to watch the Super Bowl tonight… interesting commercials, hitting and grinding that scores and some good times to text to your Facebook friends.

Something much more exciting than watching politicians in the mud pit.