To what extent is the consumer of millennials different to that of previous generations in the area of leisure? - Holidays and travel Emma kimpton


With age comes culturally defined behavioural attitudes; it affects our lifestyle and self-concept (Mothersbaugh and Hawkins, 2016). Assumptions are made that different generations possess different characteristics that are based upon society’s changing lifestyle trends and behaviours (Mazanec et al., 2001). However, no matter what our age, studies show we are all appealed by products or services that have a reference to our past and make us feel nostalgic (Soloman et al., 2013) and use certain brands to portray an image about themselves to others (Doster, 2013). Our age shapes our behaviours in terms of the media we use, what products we buy, how we think, and how they feel about marketing activities (Mothersbaugh and Hawkins, 2016). Where millennials or Generation Y are shaped by social media, their following generation, Generation Z have been shaped by a desire to fit in (Benckendorff et al., 2010). This page will look through the leisure habits of Millennials while making comparisons to other generations, with a focus on holidays. For this paper, the generation groups as defined by Nielson (2017) will be used.

Nielson (2017) defines the generations into the following year groups:

Generation Groups (Nielson, 2017)

The Millennial Consumer

Observers of popular trends have learnt that for the most part, generations are similar in terms of their leisure trends (Nielson, 2017). A big difference in consumer trends is that baby boomers are extremely loyal to certain brands and take much persuasion to use another product or brand, whereas millennials are more likely to switch brands quickly (Reisenwitz & Iyer, 2007). Though millennials do switch brands often, they actively participate in the co-creation of the products they use; in the past, people were very rarely a part of the product creation process (Fromm & Garton, 2013).

As a generation group, millennials are unlike any other generation before them. They are more affluent, numerous, educated to a higher level are more ethnically diverse (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Though Howe and Straus (2000) suggest Millennials are more affluent than those before them, a study by Macke (2017) shows that Millennials are actually poorer than the Generation X-ers before them. This contradiction may come from that in 2000 many of the Millennial age bracket will not have all been at a mature stage of life, however, they are now. Millennials are trend setters, other generations look to them for the latest trend to involve themselves in (Goldman Sach, 2015). Millennial teens utilise new strategies and techniques to present themselves to others, they do this via social media and this represents a unique consumption culture (Doster, 2013). Millennials are 3 times more likely to speak about a brand on social media than Baby Boomers and 10 times more likely to blog about it (Goldman Sach, 2015).

Roughly half of millennials struggle with adulthood, 46% also say they feel like this still rely too much on their parents still and 52% suggest they do not feel as grown up as their peers (Macke, 2017). Macke (2017) argues that millennials are not as rich as Baby boomers were when at the same age. However, despite financial challenges, millennials love to treat themselves and 32% suggest they spent more on holidays in 2016 than 2015, compared to 14% of Baby Boomers feeling this way (Macke, 2017).

How do the generations differ?

High earning baby boomers have the highest spend and they spend most on travel (Reisenwitz & Iyer, 2007; Nielson, 2017) they work hard, play hard and spend hard (Cochran et al., 2009). Holidays are an important part for those in the late stages of life where their financial situation is normally better and they have more time on their hands. They use holidays to substitute other identity-creating life activities such as being a parent (Therkelson & Gram, 2008). Over 60% of Baby Boomers enjoy being involved in high-movement activities when they travel, such as surfing, scuba-diving and paragliding (Cochran et al., 2009). Cruising holidays are highly popular among this generation bracket (Ghosh, 2016).

Millennials are highly influenced by their peers, in choosing where they should travel next 76% said that recommendations from friends were their main influence and opinions on social media came before advice from travel agents (Lane, 2016). Teens of the Millennial generation practise self-enhancement through the consumption of symbolic materials and places, self-enhancement is important to this generation as they are going through important life transitions (Doster, 2013). When the younger generations travel, they no longer want a part animal atmosphere; the younger travellers now want to submerse themselves in local culture and cuisine (Lane, 2016). Not only does social media allow the Millennial consumer to escape from the family circle (Soloman et al., 2013) but 90% of younger travellers update social media while they are on holiday or travelling (Lane, 2016). Due to Millennials being so highly influenced by their peers and those around them, when purchasing a holiday this paper suggests they consume products they know from Observational Learning. A millennial consumer who is constantly on social media, learning from celebrities on social media and being highly influenced from peers purchases products that their peers have rated on social media (Doster, 2013; Lane, 2016) learns were to travel to from all these influencers and therefore are Observational learners.

In terms of travel trends, Generation X were the ones the lead the way. Their parents saw the growth of package holidays and it was Generation X who picked up their rucksacks and travelled the world (Siddle, 2017). Though, Generation X were previously the most adventurous it is now the Millennials who are most susceptible to new travel trends. AirBnB allows the poorer Millennial to travel on a budget and stay in someone’s home rather than a hotel – proving a cost saving travel option. Millennials are most likely to follow in this trend and trust the AirBnB properties (Mitskavets, 2016). Travel is no longer just for the rich; people from all generations and backgrounds can now get away and seek sun and fun (Siddle, 2017). Millennials now seek a personalised travel experience (Cavato, 2017), this view correlates positively with the thoughts of Fromm and Garton (2013) that Millennials seek high involvement in creating a personalised experience. Millennials expect a company to seek their opinion and to have a personalised experience offered to them (Fromm and Garton, 2013).

Consumer Behaviour Model

When making a decision about a holiday, Millennials need to consider cost more than their previous generations. In terms of the Buying Decision Behaviour model by Soloman et al. (2016) the Millennial consumer will feel more towards the Extensive problem-solving spectrum of the model. The reason for this will follow.

Decision Making Model (Soloman et al., 2016)

The holiday is a more expensive product, the Millennial consumer would rather save for this holiday however, than their own house (Mitskavets, 2016). A holiday is something the Millennial consumer needs to save for, therefore is not a frequently bought product. When buying a holiday and travelling, we are highly involved in the activities, we choose the package and how much we are willing to pay, we choose the hotel the flights. As previously highlighted by Fromm and Gartner (2013), Millennial consumers an actively involved in many of their purchases and decisions, therefore there is also extensive thought and time gone into the holiday purchasing decision. When purchasing a holiday, we need high amounts of information and we have a set criteria for what we want from the holiday, this is what constitutes an Extensive Problem Solving purchasing decision.

In conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear within the research undertaken that Millennials are diverse, trend setting observational learners surrounded by a digital era in which they can submerse themselves in while travelling. A generation group who care more for what their peers think about a destination than the experts and who would trust a Facebook post over a review site. The generations previous to Millennials are richer in terms of both cash and time, have different values about travelling but are not as open to change. The millennial consumer is harder to please as they have higher expectations but reward the companies who please them by promoting the company to friends through social media. What makes the Millennial generation interesting is that although there is a large age gap between old and young millennials, there are still seen as enjoying the same products and services and have very similar expectations. The underlying difference between the Millennial generation and those before them is that they are more unwilling to stick to just one brand, they prefer to co-create and have their opinions valued and they see social media as a necessity to their daily lives, including when they travel.

Reference List

Benckendorff, P., Moscardo, G. & Pendergast, D. (2010) Tourism and Generation Y. 1st Edition. Oxford: CABI Publishing.

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Cochran, L. J., Rothschadl, A. M. and Rudick, J. L. (2009) Leisure Programming for Baby Boomers. 1st Edition. USA: Human Kinetics.

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Fromm, J. & Garton, C. (2013) Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. 1st Edition. New York: Amacom.

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Reisenwitz, T. & Iyer, R. (2007) A Comparison of Younger and Older Baby Boomers: Investigating the Viability of Cohort Segmentation. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 17(6), 481-497.

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Therkelson, A. & Gram, M. (2008) The Meaning of Holiday Consumption: Construction of Self Among Mature Couples. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8(2), 269-292.


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