Who’s Afraid of Generation Y?

Seven things to think about when you think about millennials

By John Hall - July 24, 2018

Let’s talk about millennials.

If you work in the multifamily industry, you have probably been talking about the importance of marketing to millennials for a long time. In fact, you are probably sick of hearing about it.

But here’s the thing: Millennials have been your biggest target market for a quite a while already. Depending on which (of the many) date ranges for millennials that you subscribe to, the oldest millennials are now as old as 32. They have been renting from you for well over a decade!

In other words, millennials are adults now, and there is a wealth of information about their consumer habits and preferences that is based upon actual behavior.

So, let’s take a look at some of the things we have learned about them.

1) For a number reasons, they prefer renting to owning. Clearly, there are many millennials that simply cannot afford to buy a house. However, apartments represent a lot more than just a fall-back from home ownership.

2) One reason that renting appeals to so many of them? It fits their lifestyle! This article (very much worth a read, by the way) offers six defining characteristics of what millennials want from their rental housing: technology, community, authenticity, work and play, health, and experience. Communities that can recognize the opportunities to meet these needs will reap the benefits.

3) They want to be able to function without cars. Making your communities more walkable, bikable, or even “bus-able” will result in your ability to earn higher rents. Millennials that do own cars still avail themselves of these alternative options much more than other generations.

4) They are obsessed with their pets. Obsessed! Get this: Three fourths of Americans in their thirties own a dog, and over half own cats! And they are willing to spend a big chunk of their earnings on their pets. Offering pet-friendly accommodations and amenities has become essential in today’s marketplace.

5) While they love their smartphones, they really don’t like their phones. What?! Most millennials use their phones for everything but phone calls. If you want to reach them, they prefer a text. If they seek information, they will find it online before they will even think of calling someone for help. Your community needs to have marketing in place that meets this requirement!

6) Similarly, they value sleek design and simplicity in their online interactions. Intuitive, easy, and straightforward are the keywords here. If they can’t find what they are looking for without having to ask, they will go somewhere else. Applications that do not adhere to these principles are essentially useless in today’s marketplace.

7) You can’t “speak their language”, because they don’t really have a language. Attempts to pigeonhole specific interests and tastes of such a large group is foolhardy, and always ends up seeming insincere. With every passing year, there are more hobbies, interests, and entertainments available to people than ever before, and technology provides endless ways to approach them. Also, once a catchphrase or meme becomes common currency, it is probably already out of fashion.

If the first six items on this list seem to run contrary to the seventh, just think of the difference between trends and fads. It is one thing to say that millennials prefer texting to phone calls. It is quite another to say that they prefer emojis and hashtags to photos and conversations. What appeals to them in their personal relationships is probably not what they want or expect from their transactional relationships. 

So, don’t pander! Remember, millennials are adults now, and would like to be treated as such. 

Questions? Comments? We would love to hear about your experiences in the current apartment rental market.
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