1. Millennials Flex Their Financial Force
While it’s been widely reported that Millennials will overtake Boomers in spending power by 2017, don’t expect this to be a sudden, overnight event to occur on Dec. 31, 2016. Millennials are already significantly impacting specific industries (e.g., entertainment, tech, food and beverage), and we see this process of Millennialization to be gradual, industry- and brand-specific. Brands that haven’t started to shift will find themselves at a disadvantage by the time 2017 rolls around, and as the Millennials steadily exert their influence we’ll see the gradual rise of Millennial-focused brands and the slow-motion decline of companies that fail to make the shift.
2. Fine/Fast Casual Takeover
When popular burger chain Shake Shack filed for an IPO, it defined itself as a “fine casual” brand. The term continues the redefinition of fast food that Millennials have helped to spur. As the Fast Casual Generation, Millennials are dictating much of the future of the industry thanks to their preference for quality, affordable, customizable dining experiences — and the industry is being forced to create new ventures to keep them happy. In 2015, we will see a tipping point of fine/fast casual taking over the industry, and new players emerge in the space. New York chef Chris Jaeckle’s new restaurant, Uma Temakeria, aims to be the “Chipotle of sushi,” fast-casual pizza startups are battling for their spot in consumers’ diets, and the preference for more natural, fresh ingredients is continuing to grow.
3. Mobile Pay Me
This coming year, mobile payments will officially become a norm, at least with Millennial consumers. In 2014 alone, Snapchat released Snapcash, Apple Pay has been getting more attention, and brand partnership, than ever before, and “Venmo me” became a part of Millennials regular vernacular. The continuing rise of the “shareconomy” will support the shift. Mobile payments and connected devices create new opportunities to share rather than own goods and services, and if regular consumers are splitting costs and using their cars and apartments to make a profit, they will need better and more streamlined ways to pay one another quickly and without hassle. By the end of 2015, cash could be an endangered species.
4. The Underdog Economy
2015 could see the decline in any business or industry perceived as too "big," or too traditional. Brands that hold too much monopoly seem to hold a stigma with Millennials, who have continuously shown that they support the disruptive underdog when they can — especially when the product or service offered is a apparent improvement. A look at the evolution of where Millennials are spending their money shows the roots of this “Underdog Economy”: Craft beer is on the rise as big beer manufacturers are struggling to get their attention, big chain restaurants are falling flat on revenue while smaller chains and mom and pop locals are getting more buzz (as long as they provide the quality), and Small Business Saturday is getting a boost with Millennials at the helm in supporting it. In 2015, we'll be seeing more of the underdog getting a chance.
5. U.S. Teens Will Become Targets Once More
Remember the U.S. teen? They were the economic dynamo of the sustained ’90s boom that put Dov Charney atop the fashion world, made Mike Jeffries seem like a genius and made Coach handbags the power IPO of Y2K. After the great recession, teens lost their access to discretionary income and fell off the map somewhat from a marketing perspective. In a sales call to a large manufacturer of running shoes in the year 2009, we were politely told that nobody cared about U.S. teens anymore as everyone was chasing teens from BRIC countries, followed by MINT countries. After a mere seven years of stimulus and recovery, guess who’s showing up at stores across America once more? You guessed it, the American teen. They’re re-asserting their economic value and will be attracting the care and attention of global marketers once more.