Real Estate and Millennials

I just read an article that says it’s hard to get ‘Millennials’ into the DIY stores these days, but hope springs eternal as the older ones in the cohort are reaching the median age for home buying.  That’s a mouthful.  It’s true that they are aging like the rest of us, and it gives me something else to watch swirl around the drain as the marketing folks miss the mark again.

Millennials are buying new homes much of the time, not old homes that need work, and their DIY days are way ahead of them.  I’ve watched business after business change their paradigm to cater to Millennials and fail miserably at it.  Why?  They don’t have a clue.  They read the articles that say Millennials are at shopping age OMG!  Well heads up people.  Millennials don’t shop.  They save, they pay student loan debt and they are not baby boomers who live beyond their means.

The impending focus by the big box DIY stores toward Millennials is just another example of how people get on the cart path, so to speak, trying to change things to satisfy the media hype, rather than paying attention to their clientele.  Look around you in the DIY stores.  There are no DJs or Wifi boutique areas.  It’s a big old tool and garden shop.  It smells like plywood and there’s always an aisle full of guys on their knees searching through the bin for that perfect screw or bolt.  Which still makes me go hmmmm.  And I don’t see any Millennials! Not one!  Could you envision one of them being interested in the LEAST about that perfect bolt?  Not unless you hide a cell phone in the bin as a prize.

It would benefit these businesses to look at JC Penney, for example, who tried to change everything to cater to the young people.  Look at their stock price real quickly.  I’ll wait.  See?  Disaster.  When JC Penney shut out their foundation clientele you could hear the toilet flushing their income stream.  It’s the older generation who are the bread and butter, the ones who made these stores ‘big box’ to start with.  They can change things around to be ready for Millennials to arrive, and they can listen to crickets chirping…you know like JC Penney did.

For DIY stores, it’s a bad idea to negate the needs of the foundational clientele, because they are older folks (and I mean over thirty) who have kids who need a nice yard in which to play, kids who make you need to paint, grandkids who break things and flush things that shouldn’t be flushed.  And Millennials don’t have kids or are just getting started and they don’t need yards.  But all of that aside, the Millennials are not shoppers. Not yet.  Electronics?  Yes.  But that’s about it for now.

They are not ready for big box DIY.  They couldn’t care less about planting a flower bed and if they do, chances are it will be neglected and die because…they have other things to do!  Fun things! They go to their friends’ weddings, or their wedding.  They go clubbing, they go biking and hiking, they date.  Or they get ready to date, or they start a family.  It’s that time of their lives.  DIY and flower beds are way out there on the radar, if at all.

Some of my all time favorite clients are Millennials.  They exhibit true partnership in choosing a home and defining a price range.  They never want to max out their purchase power; rather, they stay conservative and realize that they also want to continue to play, or think about starting a family.  They don’t need a palace to start with.  Don’t get me wrong, they want a nice home, but they are smart about it.  They plan to HIRE people to fix things because they are on their computers and iPads and iPhones…or Samsung Galaxies.   Millennials budget in repair people! They do not plan to be one.

Oh I know they WILL be one, but they don’t know that yet.

Millennials are tech savvy, not circular saw savvy.  They are VERY okay with electronic interaction, including documentation…which is my absolute preference…and they are fun.  They also have a true partnership.  They think about things together, each has input, and I swear, one person NEVER makes the decision without looking at the other and saying, “What do you think?”  And…you might find a Millennial doing some DIY but it’s usually because his father is helping him and Dad is the one shopping for plywood.  Young son has researched the issue online so he knows what’s going on, but it’s DAD who is doing the work.  Trust me.

On the flip side: There are some Millennials who buy fixer-uppers, but its to save money.  And when something breaks, they freak out.  They don’t run to the DIY center; they call Dad or somebody they know “who does this stuff”…usually NOT a Millennial.  True! Usually a parent or older friend with kids and a big truck and lots of bills who does this work to make extra money…not a Millennial paradigm at all.

And another thing: Better to start catering to women in these places because the Millennial women are strong and smart and engaged.  They will be one half of all buying decisions about those nuts and bolts when the time comes. That’s the cohort behavior.  A great idea would be to look at how many women are already shopping there and cater to them.  Right now.  The Millennials will be there in 15 years but if you look around, you will see a lot of  women in these places right now…but you won’t see them at the bolt bin. To us a bolt is a bolt.

I know, men think all casserole dishes are the same too.




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