When asked directly, more than 75% of Millennials, said that “when it comes to money, ‘experiences’ trump ‘things’

I have just started reading a book titled Experience, the 7th Era of Marketing. Frustratingly as expected it appears the focus of this book is how to better sell stuff to the millennial generation. (Though this frustration likely represents the birth of my next complementary business venture . . . just a little tease.)

Early in the book is this:

When asked directly, more than 75% of Millennials, said that “when it comes to money, ‘experiences’ trump ‘things’. As Eric Meyerson, head of Consumer Insights at Eventbrite, the company that sponsored the research said, “We know that engaging in experience helps Millennials form a sense of identity differently from how other generations defined identity at the same age.”

And it’s a fear of missing out that is driving this sense of identity.

Here is the thing . . . while I am not so sure that experience helps the 60+ crowd “form a sense of identity”, I would argue strongly that, for most seniors, experience trumps stuff. We Boomers grew up in the era of “stuff will make you happy.” Now approaching or over age 60 we know we have houses full of stuff that at one time seems wonderful, seemed to be the key to happiness. The problem is that instead of creating a sense of happiness it is just a bunch of clutter that makes it hard to get more than one car in the garage (I am no exception. My 3-car garage has one car and two bays of stuff).

Stick With Me

So as I read this I got to thinking that perhaps even more than Millennials, Boomers and the Silent Generation are really attracted to experiences. Just think about how hard it is to purchase a meaningful gift for an elder, particularly one who lives in a senior living community. The book goes on to confirm this presumption. 

The Fear of Missing Out

Today in almost any part of North America Assisted Living represents the lifestyle that everyone hopes to miss out on. This is terrible, this is wrong. It does not have to be this way. It should not be this way. It is mostly our own fault for two reasons:

  1. I don’t know, maybe I have this wrong. Maybe we are not yet at the place where we are creating enough experiences worth not missing out on . . . but I am hopeful we are getting there.When we sell assisted living and largely even independent living we sell care services. As I toured buildings most times hospice and 24/7 nursing is at the top of the feature list. That is not an experience that anyone would “fear missing out on”. 
  2. There are seniors, many of whom live in senior living communities, that are having fantastic wonderful experiences that they would not have at home. There are couples getting married; elders engaged in projects that are changing the world and residents who are teaching other residents new things. These are amazing fantastic stories. These are the experiences that seniors should be afraid of missing out on. Maybe if we really really focused on telling these stories assisted living would become the thing that aging individual would be afraid of missing out on.