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Why Experiences Are More Important Than Stuff To Millennials

27/09/2016 11:15

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These days, experience trumps stuff every time. Don't get me wrong, I take particular pleasure in my 11 o'clock coffee everyday, or a new outfit on payday. But these things pale in comparison to what I really like to spend my money on. I look at the mere 19 days I get as holiday from my full time job as a challenge, working out just how much I can do in this time with money I've barely saved. I'm researching holidays every weekend, planning music events with friends and wondering when I can next go to Alton Towers. The last time I actually spent a substantial amount of money on a material thing was my DDJ-RB controller - but even so, this was so that I could get better at DJing, and ultimately experience DJing in a real club setting.

Whether we realise it or not, millennials like experience. In fact, 78 percent of us actually prefer to spend money on experience over material possessions. I have often thought that this comes hand in hand with the digital social media revolution. More and more we're trying to show (off) that really cool thing we did that one time, or the inspirational person or celebrity we met. If we did it, there's sure to be a picture of it; after all, if there isn't proof on social media - did it really happen?

Without realising it I've actually written about this subject before, pointing out that when buying presents you should look to buy loved ones things to do over actual things. After some research, there's actually a lot of places that market specifically to this idea. Once upon a time, Red Letter Days were the only company really making any waves in this type of present, however, with a little help from us millennials, there's been a real boom in the amount of choice here.

You can now buy experience days by the bucket load. You can still do the classics; ride in a hot air balloon, drive an iconic car, but you can also do things that once upon a time you would have had to stumble across to find; wood craft workshops, learning to rear farm animals, wilderness survival courses, forge your own wedding ring. You can literally do anything these days, the extraordinary has become accessible. What I found most interesting on the Humdinger Days website, though, was the opportunity to 'suggest a day'; the capacity to almost crowdfund an experience is brilliant. This means you can get your entire family to donate to your once-in-a-lifetime experience and with social media, you can now share every part of the story with them.

It's no surprise that this market has exploded either. With house prices rising - making it nearly impossible for us millennials to get on the property ladder - and the struggle to get into a career without a plethora of unpaid work, experiences to make us feel better about these facts are sorely needed. No wonder about 80% of 18-35 year olds voted to stay in the EU, this is the generation that has experienced more outside of their own culture than probably anyone else before them, the need to hold onto this is more important than a Britain that will be supposedly 'great again'.

Of course, the internet helps here. We see so much than anyone else before us. Videos on Facebook are thrust in our face as we scroll, Instagram shows thousands of pictures from around the world with a single hashtag and Twitter allows us to see the opinions of those with different lifestyles. We're an accommodating generation who want to do and feel as much as they can.

Before I was writing this article, I was able to search French UNESCO sites that I want to visit in January while simultaneously curing my post-holiday blues from the trip to Spain I've just returned from. Millennials have an insatiable appetite to know as much as they can about the world that surrounds them. Experience will always trump stuff; now sit back and watch every advert for a material thing (ahem GoPro) show experience as a way to sell stuff.

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