7 Industries Millennials Are (Supposedly) Killing

  • Oh, those nasty millennials. Don’t they have any respect for their corporate overlords?

You’ve heard it constantly over the last 10 years — millennials are killing industries left and right. But is that actually true? And if it is, why are millennials not living like the generations that came before them?

Let’s take a look at 7 industries that accuse millennials of ringing their death knell, and whether that’s really the case.


1) Beer

Big national beer companies are crying that millennials are just not chugging down enough watered-down swill. But at the same time, who could forget the caricature of millennial hipsters with their cans of PBR. So, what gives?

Sales of mainstream beer — think Budweiser, Coors, or Sam Adams — have indeed fallen 10% between 2006 and 2016. Meanwhile, 20% of young drinkers prefer wine over beer, while another 20% would rather sip hard liquor. An increasing number of people are also choosing not to drink at all.

Millennials haven’t abandoned beer completely, though. The 500% spike in craft beer sales in the last 10 years shows that they actually like it — they just prefer good beer.

Verdict: Mixed. Millennials aren’t killing off all beer. Just the lousy brands.

2) Cable TV

Those dang kids, and their Netflixes and chills. Why can’t they just watch good old-fashioned cable TV?

Cable TV companies complain that millennials aren’t buying cable subscriptions anymore. A 2019 report found that 81% of adults between 22 and 35 had streaming subscriptions, while only 51% subscribed to cable.

But it’s not the millennials that are the biggest cable-cutters. Adults between 35 and 44 years of age are cancelling cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services in even greater numbers.

That said, cable networks like HBO and Showtime are launching their own streaming services. Really, streaming is soon going to be just cable TV by another name.

Verdict: False. Gen-Xers and boomers are killing off cable TV in equal or greater numbers.

3) Marriage

The marriage industry is reeling from the millennial reluctance to tie the knot. And maybe that’s a change for the better — why do we even have a marriage “industry?”

This one is kind of true, though. According to the Pew Research Center, only 46% of people aged 25-37 are married. Compare that to 67% of boomers and 57% of Gen-Xers who are joined in blissful matrimony.

So why is that? Some sources say that economic considerations, like student loans, are delaying millennial marriage plans. At the same time, many millennial couples choose to cohabitate without tying the knot.

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. But really, when was the last time you saw a horse and carriage?

Verdict: True. Millennials aren’t tying the knot as often as before.

4) Divorce

Surprisingly, divorce lawyers join the wailing choir with wedding planners. Apparently, they’re running out of customers since millennials aren’t continuing the tradition of getting married five times over your life.

According to research, the divorce rate has fallen 18% between 2008 and 2016. In a way that makes sense — if millennials don’t get married, they can’t divorce either.

But that’s not the only reason. It’s a pretty much proven fact that saying your vows later in life leads to more a successful marriage. You have time to get to know your future spouse better and figure out if you truly are right for each other.

Verdict: True. Millennials are killing off divorce attorneys — and good riddance.

5) Gyms

“Millennials are bunch of lazy fatasses!” scream big gym chains, like Gold’s and 24 Hour Fitness. “That’s why our membership numbers are dropping!”

But calm your roid rage, Mike McMuscle. If millennials are so lazy, then why do they spend almost twice as much on fitness than the Gen-X and boomers?

The answer is that millennials go to health clubs or studio gyms instead of the big box gyms of the past. Health-focused but busy millennials prefer shorter, high-intensity fitness classes to lifting weights for two hours.

Additionally, a gym class lets millennials get some much-needed socialization. Around 47% of millennials say they feel lonely, so it’s no wonder they want to work out with a likeminded group.

If the big gym chains want to keep up, maybe they should start offering some crossfit classes or something.

Verdict: Mixed. Millennials spend more on fitness, but they don’t like solo exercise at a big gym chain.

6) Cheese

Millennials must all be lactose-intolerant. How else are you going to explain processed cheese sales falling for the fifth year straight?

Ah, but the key here is the word “processed.” Sales of American cheese might be tanking, but specialty cheeses have actually caused a 40% spike in demand for U.S. cheesemakers between 2000 and 2017.

It only makes sense. Millennials in general prefer natural, real foods. It’s no wonder they’ll choose a good Cheddar or Gouda over…

Whatever American cheese actually is.

Verdict: False. Only processed cheese sales are falling, and that stuff shouldn’t count as cheese anyway.

7) Diamonds

Oh yeah, here’s the big one. You could say the whole “millennials are killing our industry” narrative was launched by an Economist article in 2016, claiming that millennials have stopped buying diamonds.

And it’s true. Sales of rough diamonds fell 25% in 2019, and global diamond jewelry sales are on a downward trajectory as well.

The answers as to why can be found in the survey accompanying that original Economist article. Around 70% of responders said that they prefer lab-grown diamonds over real ones, both due to ethical and price considerations.

It’s no secret that the global diamond mining industry is based on some questionable practices. Poor working conditions, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses are all synonymous with blood diamonds.

Another factor in the declining diamond sales is that millennials simply can’t afford them. Since they also get married later (or not at all), they have fewer reasons to buy diamonds, as well.

Verdict: True. Diamonds aren’t millennials’ best friends.

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