From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

Canary In the Coal Mines was...the Millennials?!

Many times during 2020 we spoke of "disruption with a capital D!"

And now, more than a third of the way through 2021, that Disruption with a capital D shows no signs of abating. Instead, it just keeps morphing (not unlike the Covid strains that keep emerging....) 

But the disruption that we see emerging is in the attitude,  deportment, and psyche of Millennials, and the many people who are now acting like Millennials. This is showing up in the attitude of shoppers as well as employees. 


Consider how the expectations of life and happiness of these digital natives have been shaped by a seemingly relentless series of major disruptions: 9/11; school shootings; the Great Recession; and now the triple pandemics of COVID, the economic meltdown, and civil injustice. 

  • Before COVID, they had gotten the rap of having a bad work ethic, being "fickle", prone to job hopping. Their expectations of what a job should offer them were very different from previous generations.
  • Moreover, they questioned almost everything, scoffed at  conspicuous consumption, preferred renting or sharing to owning. What a pain for anybody (or any algorithm) trying to forecast sales!

And now, as we emerge from the pandemics, this Millennial mindset has become pervasive. 

  • "The past year has fundamentally changed the economy and what many Americans want in their working life. This big reassessment — for companies and workers — is going to take awhile to sort out and it could continue to pop up in surprising ways."
  • "Economists describe this phenomenon as reallocation friction, the idea that the types of jobs in the economy are changing and workers are taking awhile to figure out what new jobs they want — or what skills they need for different roles."*

But it's not just jobs that matter to retailers. It also affects what shoppers want from your store and your merchandise – authenticity, convenience, personalization, uniqueness, 24/7 availability, quality, all with low prices, too. 

Indeed, the disruptions with a capital D show no signs of abating.

But then again, it seems to us that what the Millennials and other values-seeking people want is not that much different than the values of independent retailers.

Retail IS a mirror of society. Those retailers who survive are those who are able to keep adjusting. 

Avocado toast, anybody??

It's not a "labor shortage." It's a great reassessment of work in America. Heather Long, Economics reporter. The Washington Post, May 7, 2021. 

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