Sunday 2 October 2016

Generational Change At QVM

A trader recently complained that there were too many “oldies” involved in trader matters and it was important to get a younger perspective on issues facing traders. He was referring to a photo of an anti-renewal group in the newspaper although his concern included any group involved with The Queen Vic Market. He felt that Millennials needed to be better represented.

Millennials are the new darlings of the consumer world. They are those born roughly between 1980 and 2000, so today they are aged between 16 and 36. They are heavily influenced by the digital age and the Great Recession of 2008 and they are considered a very important consumer group likely to impact on buying trends over the coming decades. And they are having kids so a new generation is being created.

Here is how Goldman Sachs describes millenials - One of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years. Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.

You can see why the trader was concerned at the absence of Millennials. If Millennials are absent from influential groups what does that mean for our relevance to consumers generally? It is true that you don’t have to be a member of a particular generation group to understand their impact and adjust your retailing offer but it is important that their voice is being heard so you can make the right decisions.

Much high level research has been done on generational attitudes, particularly by educational institutions. Studies have suggested that Millennials are more likely to accept social change on issues like same sex marriage, although less interested in political involvement generally (maybe that is why they don’t feature much in trader matters). They are more likely to embrace new technology in their lives. Millennials create and then adopt new digital delivery models, and are likely to lead older shoppers to this faster, easier and cheaper world. They are certainly more driven by wealth creation than previous generations and perhaps that helps explain why consumers are moving away from discretionary buying (buying "stuff”), into saving and property accumulation?

We ignore generational change at our peril and that applies at our own internal QVM level. Some older traders have been critical of changing trader attitudes. They are critical of some newer traders who seem to give more importance to getting home to pick up the kids than staying at the market to serve customers. That has already been identified as a major problem to extending trading hours at QVM. Yet we shouldn't be surprised, because Millennials are known to look for versatility and flexibility in employment along with a work/life balance that may be quite different to the work ethic of previous generations. Versatility and flexibility for traders may become more important for our market designers.

There is much to read about on this subject (the Wikipedia entry on Millennials is quite comprehensive) but let's finish this article with an interesting proposition from Forbes magazine a few weeks back. They suggest that the most distinctive attribute of Millennials is their readiness to be entrepreneurial. According to one study, only 13% are looking to climb the corporate ladder, while 67% plan on starting their own business one day. Flexible working hours and the opportunity to do your own thing were important to this group. Dare we call them rebels? Sounds like perfect market trader material. Maybe the future supply of QVM market traders is assured.