The danger with generalising millennials

Adam Malik

By Adam Malik, Head of Business Development – UK & Ireland, at Equiem:

“Think of the Millennial generation and any number of preconceptions may immediately spring to mind – from Instagramming smashed avocado in their favourite artisan cafe, to selfies at Glasto. As a result, commercial real estate landlords and managers now believe they have a pretty good handle on who Millennials are and what they want from office space. The Millennial code has finally been cracked. What they’re after is stripped back offices, funky seating, industrial style lighting, coffee and beer on tap and a few splashes of colour. Or are they?

“The reality is that there is real danger in using a broad definition for a whole generation to guide asset management strategies and for those that take that one size (of trendy Millennial jeans) fits all approach, two problems remain.

“Firstly, tastes change, and in the case of Millennials they change quicker than any other generation. If landlords believe that Millennials can be satisfied for the next ten years by mirroring successful co-working models, then they will forever be playing catch up, as décor or layout becomes yesterday’s design. Given that most landlords have traditionally redesigned office space around every 10 years, the vast majority are constantly in danger of failing to cater to changing occupier demands.

“Secondly, as real estate becomes more and more consumer-focused, it is not enough for landlords to assume that every user of a particular space is satisfied by the same things. Generally speaking, Millennials tend to share similar traits, but often they don’t. Instead the question for landlords and managers has to be not ‘how can I understand what Millennials want?’ but instead ‘how can I understand what the end user of my own space wants?’

“An excellent place to start is with tenant experience apps like ours which take landlords closer to the end user of their space. Alongside supercharging onsite retail, events and amenities, the Equiem platform also allows for seamless, direct communication between landlords and individual users, establishing an ongoing dialogue with a whole building, as opposed to a select handful of tenant representatives. Furthermore, our data analytics tools allow owners to monitor how users interact with their buildings – what events they enjoy, what experiences are popular and which amenities are most used. This vital data means that landlords and managers can make smart, swift and effective asset management decisions based, not on a hunch about what Millennials might want, but on clear evidence for what occupiers in their own buildings want. It’s that kind of flexible approach that will keep all users happy, regardless of which generation they belong to.

“As of next year, 50% of the world’s working population will be made up of Millennials, but that fact needn’t scare commercial landlords. In some ways they shouldn’t pay it any attention at all. The reality is that owners don’t need to understand Millennials better – that is far too general an approach. Instead, owners simply need to employ strategies and solutions that help them better understand those working within their own buildings if they want to attract and keep today’s occupiers.”