Around a decade ago, the internet was awash in articles about how millennials were destroying this industry or ruining that industry. The story was nearly always the same: this rag-tag group of young digital natives wanted things fast, convenient, and hyper-relevant – to the detriment of dyed-in-the-wool industry incumbents. These disruptions would be the death of tentpole industries, the pundits maintained.
Now, it’s a decade later. Millennials have grown up to become a dominant demographic in both purchasing power and organizational influence.
It’s safe to say that the generation once blamed for ruining everything has spurred positive change. To highlight this point, let’s cycle through a few traditional industries millennials have revived through bold technological thinking.
#1: The Restaurant Industry
It’s been a bumpy ride for the restaurant industry. First, the changes came fast and furious, leaving several independent businesses and national chains scrambling to adapt. After all, there was little separating these tech-enabled apps from the old system of call-in delivery. But this reaction underestimates the allure of on-demand convenience.
It’s a well-documented fact that millennials don’t like to make phone calls. So these apps tapped into a turnkey system for delivery with built-in payment options. Incidentally, the tech-enabled approach would serve the industry just a few years later, as the pandemic forced contactless transactions and incentivized at-home dining.
#2: Real Estate
Recently, millennials have matured to become the most significant buying demographic in real estate. So naturally, they’ve pulled technology along for the ride.
The best example is Nobul, a digital real estate marketplace that began disrupting the industry around five years ago. Before Nobul, real estate consumers had little power in real estate transactions; they had to choose their agents based on gut instinct (and bus stop ads), navigate the murky waters of local MLSs, and jump through several manual hoops on the road to home buying.
As CEO Regan McGee told Superb Crew, “Nobul brings choice, accountability, and transparency to an industry that has – for decades – been widely regarded by homebuyers as opaque and challenging. Anytime you bring innovative technology to the table to make the process easier, it will be considered disruptive.”
Transportation looks far different now than it did just a decade ago, largely thanks to the millennial penchant for tech-enabled solutions. Millennials encouraged the public and private passenger transportation industries to rethink their manual approach to procurement, payment, and vehicle type.
The big news story here – the first thing many people think of when considering millennial disruption – is Uber, which launched several other app-based rideshare businesses to chip at the monopolizing taxi industry. But there have also been modest changes – tap enablement on public transport, electric fleets on urban bus routes, and the rise of “micro-mobility options” like electric scooters and e-bikes.
#4: Personal Finance and Investing
According to a 10,000-respondent survey from the Millennial Disruption Index (yes, it’s a real thing), 71% of millennials said they’d instead visit the dentist than the bank, and 73% said they were more excited by financial offerings from non-traditional services (like Google and Amazon) than the major financial institutions.
Figures like these might have stalwart financial practitioners shaking. But they’ve proven to be roundly positive for both innovative upstarts and significant incumbents. The “Fintech” push toward digitization has made personal finance and investing more straightforward, more accessible, and more democratic. Online investment apps like Robin Hood, Investr, and Acorn bring passive wealth generation to the masses.