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More Insights from A Millennial (and my shortest blog ever)

A week or so ago, I blogged on my daughter’s reaction to a study allegedly sharing insights into how you need market to millennials differently than everyone else. I got so many responses to the raw honesty and insight, I thought I’d go back to the D2 Demand Solutions Millennial Focus Group (again, really just my 23-year old daughter who is a renter) and ask her what she thought about the buzz around micro units and co-living concepts.

The good news is that, unprompted, she’s heard plenty about both of these. The not-so-good news? Just read her response:

Literally every millennial I have seen comment on them thinks they are glorified college dorms, and no one wants to live in them over a normal apartment. People just have to in places like San Fran because rent prices are ridiculous. There is a lot of grumbling about how baby boomers screwed over the housing market and now they think we want to live in dorms forever. Seriously, no one wants a communal bathroom and kitchen.

She also shared a comment from an online Slate article at https://slate.com/technology/2018/03/dorms-for-grown-ups-are-good-even-in-san-francisco.html

Slate-Article-Comment

Again, this is just one data point. I’m sure there are some people who do enjoy this style of living. However, this seems to support the opinion that these are not likely to be embraced by the mass market…or maybe they will be out of shear necessity? Either way, I’m glad that I’m technically a Gen Xer and not a Baby Boomer so at least her generation doesn’t blame me for this. There’s plenty else she blames me for 😊

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  • What your daughter is saying echos what I hear a lot from Millennials - that they take certain paths not because they want to, but because they have to. When our industry started celebrating that Millennials suddenly didn't want to buy a house - that they liked they flexibility of apartment living - I thought it was a bad interpretation of the data. Of course, that doesn't change the demand dynamic for apartments regardless of their motivation, but I think it is important that we understand the difference between active demand and forced demand.

    I think co-living is a good example of a situation where one might resent being forced to cohabitate and not have the independence they think they want, but if they are not forced into that arrangement, and they live by themselves, they might see the social benefits that co-living might bring. So if someone had the freedom to choose, they might see that as a great alternative.

  • Maria Doré

    That is hilarious! I often poll my own millennial children as well for insight.

    I do think there is a large segment of the population - not just Millenials - that is fine with the micro unit (IKEA has made a fortune off of this concept). Merchandising, building in innovative features and space planning are the key. A good architect can make 450 sf look spacious. Agree that bathroom sharing is not a good feature. You can fit a bathroom in a hotel room so you can certainly fit it in an apartment.

  • Thanks for the comment! I agree there is a segment of the population that is ok with micro units, though I'm not convinced it's that large. Certainly there's a larger segment that will trade off their distaste for the location. I'm not sure I get the IKEA reference. IKEA made a fortune off a "do it yourself" model, not a micro unit model. In fact, I would guess there is more IKEA furniture in single family homes than in apartments. An interesting bit of IKEA lore is the notion that people are happier with something they helped build (that they put effort into) rather than just bought. Daniel Ariely has studied that (https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=41121).

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