David Senden – Nine Things Every Marketer Should Know About What Gen Y Looks for in a Place to Live


October 14, 2014

IRVINE, CA – There are 80 million Millennials in the United States and when you make broad generalizations about any group that large, you do so at your own peril, says David Senden, a principal with Irvine, Calif.-based award-winning national architecture and planning firm KTGY Group, Inc.

“It really is a wide swath of the population. The leading edge of Gen Y is now entering their mid-thirties and in prime childrearing mode, while the trailing edge is in junior high school. So, sweeping statements lumping their needs and wants into neat little boxes is pretty tough. That said, every marketer is looking for the secrets to tap into what is, and will become, a huge consumer pool,” Senden said.

Senden believes that although there are some exceptions, there are a handful of things that designers and developers should consider:

  1. Technology.  More than any other generation, Gen Y is wired, connected and plugged-in. Not only do they appreciate technology in their homes, they demand it.  There is no faster way to alienate this demographic than to have insufficient bandwidth or slow internet speeds.
  2. Authenticity.  Millennials crave the real, un-scrubbed version of life. They’ve been moving into the inner city in droves; eager to jettison their parents’ squeaky clean suburbs for a more adventurous lifestyle, complete with a history and story that has been built over time.
  3. Community.  Gen Y is a social generation. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are the digital embodiment of their desire to be connected. This extends to their physical world, as well. Eager to live near people with like values, Millennials will seek out communities where they can see themselves in their neighbors and where their ideals are on display.
  4. Sustainability.  Millennials care about the planet. For them, it’s an extension of their value system.  They’re not always willing to pay more for sustainable features in their residences, but they expect those features to be there. They blame their parents for many of the planet’s ills. While not an extremely activist generation, they don’t want to contribute to the problem.
  5. Urbanity.  Gen Y is more willing to live in denser urban environments than those that came before them. They realize that with density comes amenities and convenience that the sprawl of the suburbs doesn’t afford. In an effort to make the most of their non-work hours, Millennials are willing to live closer to their peers to reduce commute times and be in walking and biking distance to entertainment and restaurants.
  6. Variety.  Millennials appreciate choice. They understand that one size does not fit all and want to live where and how they choose. Increasingly, Gen Y is embracing communities that can accommodate varying lifestyles, income levels and family structure.
  7. Uniqueness.  Gen Y embraces the unique characteristics of individuals and appreciates the unique in their choice of living situation, as well. Eschewing the sameness of their parents’ suburbs, Millennials look for the opposite. They want homes that show the world that they are different. They are unique. And, they are not like those that came before them.
  8. Beauty.  Millennials can appreciate beauty in all of its forms. Gen Y is a generation that looks to afford themselves the time to contemplate the mundane and take pleasure in the simple things.  Their lifestyle has pushed aside the hard-charging ways of the generations before them to luxuriate in the ordinary day-to-day. To attract them, the simple things should be elevated.
  9. Affordability.  The great recession had a huge impact on Gen Y. Their resources are limited and they are desperately seeking the lifestyle they want at a price they can afford. This leads to smaller residential units, unlikely roommate situations, and creativity to get into the neighborhoods in which they wish to live. Developers who can solve the affordability problem, while delivering on the rest of the wish list will be rewarded.

Over the course of the next couple of decades, Gen Y will shape much of the direction of United States, says Senden. “From entertainment to politics to fashion, the Millennial influence will gain a greater and greater place within American life. As their Boomer parents did before them, they will set the course, their values will become the country’s values. And, their desires about the built environment will dictate what America looks like for decades to come,” Senden added.