“The Cheapest Generation” Will Be Tomorrow’s Gardeners

Members of the Millennial generation don’t spend money the same way their parents did. They aren’t buying cars and houses at the same level of previous generations, and according to a recent article from The Atlantic titled “The Cheapest Generation,” it might be more than an effect of a bad economy.

According to the report, the percentage of adults between the ages of 21 and 34 buying new cars has decreased in recent decades, and the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 was half of what it was 10 years ago.

The article posed the question, what if this is part of a permanent generational shift in tastes and spending habits? Perhaps a “perfect storm” of economic and demographic factors has changed the game.

“The largest generation in American history might never spend as lavishly as its parents did — nor on the same things. Since the end of World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the world’s largest economy and propelled our most impressive recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both,” the article states.

Low pay, low savings and student debt are some of the factors that make it all the more difficult for Millennials seeking a mortgage or car loan. Also, young people are less interested in traditional suburbs and more interested in urban areas or denser suburbs where houses and the need for a car are smaller.

Click here to read the full article. at http://theatln.tc/1n8w6Vk

So what does this mean for horticulture? Industry members weigh in:

joseph-tychonievich“I actually think the shift away from suburban homes with large yards toward smaller urban dwellings could be, potentially, a positive for gardening as a hobby. Urban homes and apartments have few outdoor chores, but lots of opportunities to garden for fun in the form of containers on patios and balconies. The gardener of the future may look very different from those of previous generations. It is up to our industry to figure out how to give this new generation what they need to garden the way they want, rather than the way their parents did.”
-Joseph Tychonievich, horticulturist and author

 

jared-barnes“We’ve switched from being a rural society to an urban society, and the realities are that it’s hard to own a house and a car in urban areas due to size and cost. When I reflect on what I’ve heard from my friends, they echo that belief. They want to carpool, bike or have supper clubs to share food. With millennials, I don’t think we need to be trying to make quick sales, but instead we need to play the long game and show them that our industry is one that is invested in helping them live successful, healthy lives and making the world a better place. Sharing plants, I believe, is one way to do that.”
-Jared Barnes, assistant professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas

 

kristine-lonergan“Millennials like to share and get involved in group activities. I think there could be a great opportunity for the gardening industry to emphasize all its wonderful benefits. Gardening is the real social network. It is the perfect activity to do with friends, even if it’s container gardening in more urban settings. Millennials seem to get a lot of heat because their generation may look and do things differently. They are an extremely educated generation, and I think if we engage them more via marketing the “whys” and “hows” of gardening, we can get them on board.”
-Kristine Lonergan, director of sales and marketing, Garden State Growers, Pittstown, N.J.

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