Yahoo! Shopping: Millennials spend on bosses and friends, not family

By Victor Paul Alvarez

In 1993, when Generation X was in full bloom, a largely forgotten band named Fury In The Slaughterhouse sang “Every Generation Got Its Own Disease.” At the time, the disease that was killing Generation X was the influx of bands with insufferable names such as Fury in the Slaughterhouse. That and snark. Snark still remains the lingering disease for all those Lollapalozers out there wondering how and when they finally hit middle age. (Full disclosure: I’m 42. I’ve been to a half-dozen Lollapaloozas. I’m part of the problem.)

If Generation X had anything going for it at the time it was the impression that we truly didn’t care what anyone thought of us. Despite inventing the “look at me” platforms of Reality TV and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984), we carried ourselves with a watered down version of the punk rock, and an anti-establishment attitude that set us apart from our forerunners.

But we typically remembered to buy gifts for our parents and siblings. Not so for the new guard, often referred to as Millennials, who apparently care more about keeping their friends close and their employers closers, according to their gifting habits.

Based on a recent study conducted by digital content marketer Fractl on behalf of eBay Deals, Millennials are more likely to stiff their family while opting to buy gifts for friends and bosses instead.

“We surveyed over 1,000 people about buying gift cards for others. Turns out, there are some big generational differences when it comes to gift card etiquette,” said Ashlea Green, Fractl Media Relations Specialist.

“As a Millennial, I wasn’t surprised that digital gift cards are more commonly popular with my generation, but I was shocked to find that digital entertainment gift cards are becoming increasingly popular for weddings and baby showers, among Millennials. I was also taken aback by the fact that clothing and retail is the second most popular choice for gift cards, yet 90 percent of Millennials are likely to re-gift them,” Green says.

Here are some highlights of the new study:

- 36 percent of Millennials prefer digital gift cards; non-Millennials apt for physical.

- Millennials spend less on their family and more on their bosses and friends.

- Non-Millennials are 40 percent more likely to buy clothing gift cards; ironically, 90 percent of Millennials will re-gift them.

(Did you catch that last part about re-gifting? Millennials can thank Generation X for that, too.)

It’s not surprising that a generation raised in the digital age would prefer digital gift cards to their physical counterparts. But when it comes to materialistic endeavors, U.S. News says Millennials favor experience over things.

According to U.S. News: “With record student loan debt and an entry into the workforce characterized by vast un- and under-employment courtesy of the Great Recession, Millennials have less spending power than previous generations. As such, they tend to be frugal shoppers. But what retailers seem to be forgetting is that frugality isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s about maximizing total value. To capture the Millennial consumer, retailers need to look beyond price and ask themselves how Millennials define and assess value.”   

Joan Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter, told U.S. News that “Millennials value access over ownership,”citing the rise of popular services like ZipCar, AirBnB, Uber, and Rent the Runway as evidence of Millennials’ “restless quest for efficiency.” These companies have “served them a whole new, on demand, experiential style of living,” Kuhl notes.

The Millennials – a generation loosely defined as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015 – are projected to number 75.3 million. Not that they’re restricted to a specific day of birth. According to Adweek, 26 percent of Millennials give fake birthdays to score better online deals.

Among the tricks to save money and score deals, faking a birthday and hiring a personal consultant to ensure they’re getting the most out of frequent-flier miles are in the arsenal of many Millennials. So says research from Mindshare North America's retail arm Shop+, which analyzed more than 1,000 responses to understand how 18- to 34-year-olds shop.

“Retargeted advertising is often considered by marketers to be annoying or creepy, but Mindshare's report indicates consumers want to receive marketing if it comes with lower prices. Forty-seven percent of Millennials put products in online shopping carts and then leave the site, hoping the brand will send them an offer in the form of an email or ad. Thirty-seven percent of overall adults admitted to using the same strategy,” wrote Adweek.

“Faking a date of birth is another popular tactic used to shave off a few dollars—26 percent of Millennials have intentionally given a retailer a bogus birthday to get a discount, something 17 percent of all adults do. Similarly, 36 percent of millennials have forked over multiple email addresses to retailers for additional deals compared with 30 percent of overall adults.”

They went on to point out that 36 percent of Millennials share an Amazon Prime account, which costs $99 a year, to receive free shipping versus 24 percent of all adults.

“When it comes to travel, 31 percent of Millennials and 23 percent of all adults wipe their Internet histories clean—to avoid the cookies that follow a user's every online move—when shopping for airline tickets. (Without the data, airlines' websites aren't able to tell if someone has been researching fares, and travel marketers are more likely to offer cheaper prices.) Moreover, 61 percent of Millennials book travel on specific days of the week like Tuesday when prices typically drop, while just 48 percent of adults overall are willing to wait for cheaper options.”

But Millennials aren’t afraid to spend a little money to secure a great deal. The study revealed that Millennials are more likely to hire a consultant to manage their frequent-flier miles. Twenty-two percent of Millennials have someone handling their travel perks compared with 15 percent of all adults.

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Posted on July 7, 2015 .