Aspen Untucked: Why Millennials Matter
February 14, 2018
My column last week focused on the outdoor retail industry and how millennials expect and desire different kinds of gear than older generations. If you read it — or if you did not — I have a couple things to set straight.
Firstly, I had a brain fart and totally used the word queue instead of cue in the first sentence of my column. It should have been "Millennials are at it again (cue horror music)." For that embarrassing mistake, I apologize.
I also mentioned the Outdoor Retailer show in my column, which debuted in Denver at the end of January. However, I didn't include the correct, full name for the show. The name was Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show. Emerald Expositions, the producer of Outdoor Retailer, recently acquired the SIA Snow Show. In my column, I made it sound like the shows were two separate entities when they have, in fact, combined forces. I'm sorry if I mislead my readers by not stating this.
However, neither of these mistakes were what I got criticized for in an email once the column was published. A very upset local business owner told me that, in my column, I was bashing local businesses and no one actually cares what millennials think because we don't have or spend any money. I never mentioned local businesses in last week's column, I simply said that the outdoor industry as a whole needs to change their approach slightly to appeal to millennials. The person that emailed me disagreed with that, and I'm sure others do, too.
This got me to thinking, in my four and a half years of writing this column on millennials, I've never clearly stated why Generation Y is so important. We all see a cornucopia of headlines on the regular about millennials; everything from our spending habits to our existential beliefs are analyzed to the point of exhaustion. But why? Why waste our time, our ink and our web pages on this generation?
It's not simply because we're the young kids on the block and everyone likes to know what the youth are up to. It's much more than that. Millennials, as a whole, leave a huge mark on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers stated in 2014 that millennials are the largest generation in the country as of 2013, meaning we represent one-third of the total population. We are also the most diverse and educated generation ever. A report published in 2015 by Standard & Poor's, a financial services company, said millennials spent $600 billion that year. By 2020, it's possible that number will increase to as much as $1.4 trillion, or 30 percent of retail sales.
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Millennials do and will continue to have a huge effect on the economy. However, we're more frugal in our spending habits than the baby boomers. In fact, the Standard & Poor's report compares our spending with that of the Silent Generation, who dealt with the Great Depression. That could be, in part, because we were coming of age during the Great Recession and many of us have had trouble finding full-time, well-paid jobs. There's also that one issue of student debt that's pretty damn sizable. The report from the Council of Economic Advisers cites the same challenges. But, if the economy continues to improve, the Standard & Poor's report states that millennials will start making much larger purchases in the coming years. In other words, we're just getting started.
I could continue to go on about statistics and facts on my generation and its worth, but I'm guessing everyone reading this gets the picture by now. We're not going anywhere, and our effect on the economy will only become more noticeable in time. That's why so many people care to figure out what makes us tick and what we're willing to spend money on.
The point of my column is to look at trends within my generation, as well as tell some funny and often personal stories. I'm laying out the information that I find in the most accurate way possible. What my readers do with that information is entirely up to them.
Barbara Platts never aims to offend anyone in her columns. She's just talking about her generation. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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