Why millennials are spending more on experiences
The invaluable allure of experiences in the age of decreasing materialism
There is a new trend in consumption these days. From the ultra-rich to the millennials, people are spending more on experiences and less on stuff. As a CNBC Report noted, “The spending of the super-rich is no longer just about stuff and status. It’s more about memories and moments... and lots of home renovations.”
“Millennials think money is made for memories,” said another CNBC report. “Millennials are prioritizing their cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to personal experiences—and showing off pictures of them. It’s a trend that’ s ultimately helping fuel growth of billiondollar-plus start-ups like Uber, WeWork, and Airbnb.”
It could be said that experiences nourish the soul in a more deeply satisfying way, whereas the joys of a new pair of shoes or a new outfit may be fleeting and ultimately superficial. You may indeed feel “fight” in your brand new Aquazzuras, but they’ll be of little use to you from your luxury tent in Ngororo Crater as you gaze at the wildebeest through your high-powered binoculars, watching them cross the Mara River on their annual migration towards the Serengeti. But that wonder, that elation, that spiritual high that engulfs you as you survey the splendor of Mother Nature in front of you? As MasterCard would say, “Priceless.”
Perhaps. But even when it comes to experiences, there are ways of asserting status. After all, for those who are as discerning about the labels they wear as the places they go to, even travel, gastronomic, or even cultural, experiences can be curated to ensure a level of exclusivity. Like going to Art Basel, but on Collectors’ Night. Or having Joan Roca cook for you and your friends at a special Chef ’s Table event. Or renting the entire Blue Train so that you and your group can make the journey to Cape Town in style and in complete privacy.
Of course it could also be argued that there is a tinge of superficiality in the curation of experiences, because there is a deliberateness at play in this manner of collecting moments and memories; they could also be seen as “servicing a lifestyle.” It’s just that the benefits—apart from bragging rights— are largely intangible, and there is no real metric for measurement. At least, not in the way, say, a Valentino dress stacks up against the high street rip-off.
And yet… stuff like fast fashion can be convenient and ubiquitous, and ultimately throwaway in quality, but experiences don’t actually have to be expensive to have any value. Sure, you may be a little worse for wear going the package tour route, and in cattle class at that, but once you get to your destination, there is still magic to discover by climbing a mountain, sampling the local cuisine, and marveling at the art in museums. And those are pleasurable activities that don’t necessarily have to cost the same price as a bespoke trip.
And anyway, there’s always Instagram to filter in the fabulousness and make your experiences seem even more fulfilling—and envy-inducing—to others. Because what is the point of experiences if you can’t document them?