“Not everyone is going to an office 9 to 5. People are on the road. These next-generation professionals, they grew up working in Starbucks, Panera, libraries, working outside. So sometimes, they are most creative, most effective in nontraditional environments.” Jenny Hsieh, vice president of insight, strategy and innovation for Marriott International (USAToday.com, December 18, 2013)

“Given that many Millennials are delaying their decision to have children and the associated financial responsibility, affluent Millennials have the opportunity to save more and have seen the market improve nicely. Millennials have a strong desire to travel and see the world, and saving enables them to pursue these aspirations.” Jeff Fromm, EVP of ad/marketing agency Barkley (MediaPost.com, June 22, 2013)


Description

The nomad, defined as “an individual with no fixed location who wanders in search of pasture,” increasingly represents a cultural ideal for the Millennial generation. In the face of social and financial pressure, many are willing to remain free from the feeling of restriction and are building lifestyles around location independence. With borders that are fading away and technologies that make everything possible, these “digital nomads” want to gain greater flexibility in their life choices. Factors include the fact that it’s simply easier to travel today than it once was, as well as a reaction against a pressure to conform to social and economic responsibilities. Consequently highly challenged, the world of retail has no choice but find appropriate solutions to cater to this new lifestyle.

With borders that are fading away and technologies that make everything possible, these “digital nomads” want to gain greater flexibility in their life choices.

From drive-thru pop-ups to commuter stores, nomadic retailing is more relevant than ever. It remains a potent way to reach audiences beyond retail’s traditional epicentres, catch consumers on the go, and provide physical touch points for online platforms. Awareness is growing around the need to cater to consumers on the move – especially fast-moving premium consumers (FMPCs), who yearn for ease and convenience without being willing compromising on quality.

Redefining the role of home

If home ownership remains a life objective for most people, it is nonetheless being delayed for many of today’s young adults. This phenomenon is explained by the generalization of college enrollment, leading young people to take out loans and multiply daily expenses without getting a salary in parallel. Secondly, Millennials are waiting longer than previous generations to marry and start a family because of highly accessible birth control.

Whereas previous generations defined home as a place, Millennials often say they feel at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author and research scholar, coined the phrase “emerging adulthood” in 2004 to capture this long transition to adulthood, explained by the will to keep independence and spontaneity. Where previous generations defined home as a place, Millennials often say they feel at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Many attributes attached to the home (i.e. safety, attachment, relationships) can be carried anywhere thanks to digital capacities, making the idea of home more transitory for Millennials. The British and Australian media have also dubbed these young adults as “Generation Rent.” Documentary director and media-maker James Wolfensberger notes that this young generation is “quick to openly imagine themselves living and working in not just different parts of the country throughout phases of their lives, but in other nations as well.” Indeed, most of them would move to another country for a job opportunity.

Travel is part of success

Today, travel is topping the Millennial wishlist. 38% of young adults cited freedom to roam as part of success, according to MassMutual’s 2013 “State of the American Family” report. Europeans and Australians in particular are well-known for traveling long-term, with gap-years playing a more prominent and socially acceptable role in recent graduate plans, but overall every young adult is willing to travel and live abroad as well, with no plans to return.

38% of young adults cited freedom to roam as part of success, according to MassMutual’s 2013 “State of the American Family” report.

According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, Millennials are traveling despite U.S. collective $322 billion in student debt. While shoebox apartments are multiplying in big capitals, they want to remain free to seize opportunities when they arise up rather than being constrained by a mortgage. A large part of this cohort is attached to the freedom of renting over buying, even for those who can afford such a purchase. They have observed the demise of the housing market, have experienced the pain of contracting debt, and they know that the location-independence option is available if they are interested. Instead of “settling down” like their parents did decades ago, they are building lifestyles that allow them to discover more of the world, and collect a greater variety of experiences by keeping their options open. Blogs about travel edited by digital nomads are flourishing everywhere online, with people sharing with others how amazing their travel experience is and consequently convincing their peers to act similarly.

Featured examples

 

Boxed by Tyrone Stoddart

Credit: Tyronestoddart.com

Credit: Tyronestoddart.com

Noting that mobility and flexibility were becoming a priority for the younger generation of workers, Scottish designer Tyrone Stoddart has imagined Boxed, a portable and multi-functional piece of furniture that allows people to work wherever they want. It can be assembled into a desk, coffee table, two stools and lamp, which all fit into a handy suitcase. Easily transportable and easily assemblable, Boxed contains 24 pieces aimed at being used to build a table, a stool and a lamp, all made from ash tree wood. These parts then all collapse back down to their most basic form, allowing them to be returned to the case that they are stored inside.
United-Kingdom United Kingdom, June 2013

 

La Lacquerie

la-lacquerie

Credit: Lalaquerie.com

A former investment banker converted an Airstream trailer into a mobile beauty salon dedicated to time-strapped women. La Lacquerie is the first on-demand mobile manicure truck catering to busy professional women in need of a quick fix. Any company can call to book the truck to park outside its office. La Lacquerie then pulls up curbside, and opens to employees or passers-by. La Lacquerie was born in January 2014 and has been on a roll ever since. Manicures range from $16 to $38, with pedicures costing between $19 and $45. The manicures are full salon quality from top coat to base polish, and the pedicures are given ‘dry’ with a hot towel wrap to soften the skin.
United States of America United States, May 2014

 

Starbucks on board

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Global coffee-shop chain Starbucks has opened a fully-fledged commercial store in a train operating on the Geneva – St. Gallen line since 9 May 2014, with the help of Swiss railway company SBB. The store is complete with wood tables, leather chairs, and, in another first for the company, waitstaff. This unusual transit-focused concept features a branded bar and seating for up to 50 people across two levels. Key materials combine comfort and functionality while retaining the brand’s usual lounge-like signature decor. It’s “one of the smallest espresso bars and stores designed” which required a particularly tricky adaptation due to the limited space, stringent safety regulations and constant movement of the train. The space is identified from the station platform by a large Starbucks logo splashed across the train’s exterior.
Switzerland Switzerland, May 2014

 

Intelligent Color Experience by L’Oréal

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French beauty brand L’Oréal Paris and New York City Subway launched the Intelligent Color Experience. Specifically conceived to woo consumers in transit, the vending machine has a three-step process that can be completed in just two minutes. A scanning mirror detects the most prominent colours in the user’s outfit and flags up related palettes. It then recommends suitable L’Oreal Paris products. Finally, users can buy the recommended items on the spot. Also, the third unit showcases content from five New York bloggers to provide inspiration for those using the system and to entertain those who are waiting their turns. The machine stocks up to 700 products available to purchase and take away immediately, whose prices are in line with other New York City retailers.
United States of America United States, October 2013

 

Self-service kiosks by Benefit Cosmetics

benefit-cosmetics

Credit: Austintexas.gov

Beauty brand Benefit Cosmetics is targeting on-the-go travellers with the launch of self-service kiosks in airports. The interactive, branded “Glam Up & Away!” kiosks have been designed as pink vintage buses allowing customers to select from the brand’s top 30 best selling products via a digital touchscreen interface, giving them an easy way to restock their on-the-go makeup bag while viewing expert beauty tips. The limited product range and instant transaction provided by the vending machine format makes it easy for customers to stock up on essentials. Kiosks have been installed in major U.S. airports, with international installations planned for 2014. High-traffic airports are the next beauty battleground for prestige cosmetics brands— Benefit is grabbing first-mover advantage.
United States of America United States, September 2013

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Think that the “bigger is better” philosophy no longer applies. Launch products with small formats that are convenient and easily transportable, helping consumers to live lighter. Present your product as an object that is not part of the burdensome “stuff” of life, but in fact frees buyers from restraint.

2

Offer products helping facilitate detachment such as bikes, smartphones, prepaid visa, etc. Consumers will give value to and feel attached to objects that facilitate growth and freedom as they provide maximum impact, with minimal inconvenience.

3

In your communication strategies, harness both ‘evasion’ and ‘discovery’ themes. Show your products or services can help your customers escape from their everyday life and make them discover not only new tastes or flavors but also new sensations and experiences.

Summary

  • Millennials are willing to remain free and are building lifestyles around location independence. These “digital nomads” want to gain greater flexibility in their life choices.
  • Millennials often say they feel at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Many attributes attached to the home (i.e. safety, attachment, relationships) can be carried anywhere thanks to digital capacities, making the idea of home more transitory for them.
  • Instead of “settling down” like their parents did decades ago, young adults are building lifestyles that allow them to discover more of the world, and collect a greater variety of experiences by keeping their options open
  • 38% of young adults cited freedom to roam as part of success, according to MassMutual’s 2013 “State of the American Family” report

Experts that we recommend

monique-dagnaud Monique Dagnaud
Media and Millennials sociologist & author of book Génération Y, les jeunes et les réseaux sociaux: de la dérision à la subversion (Presses de Science Po, 2013)
benjamin-tinq Arthur De Grave, Benjamin Tincq, Antonin Léonard & Diana Filipova
From French collaborative platform OuiShare
nick-black Nick Black
Managing Partner at Intensions & Millennials specialist on his blog
jean-luc-excousseau Jean-Luc Excousseau
French sociologist & author of book La Mosaïque des générations (Eyrolles, 2000)
maris-desplat Maris Desplat
French writer & author of book Manager la génération Y (Dunod, 2011)