“Millennials”: America’s Cheapest Generation!

History likes repetition – and the Millennial Generation, ages 13 to 31, is the modern-day version of the G.I. Generation, another thrifty generation.

Millennials are spending their money differently from Baby Boomers.  The auto industry and the housing industry have been particularly hard hit.

For example, Ford can’t figure out how to sell them its cars, particularly the Fiesta, which was brought over from Europe especially to attract Millennials.  Fiesta sales have plummeted, down 30 % from 2011.

Housing is another hard sell.  The share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half what it was ten years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study.

So, are these trends a product of the Great Recession?  Or is there something new here – such as, the emergence of “shared shopping“?

Check out Zipcar, which allows drivers access to cars they don’t own; Airbnb, a shared marketplace for accommodations for travelers; and thredUP, a site where parents can buy and sell kids’ used clothing.

Each of America’s six generations has its own values, attitudes, and lifestyles.  Baby Boomers initially turned car manufacturers on their heads as well.  Boomers did not want the big and boxy cars their parents adored.  The Baby Boomer generation valued physical fitness and associated auto strength, power and prestige with a more sleek and lean design … and finally, car folks got the message.

Well, what do Millennials value?  Zipcar knows … Ford doesn’t.