This whole recent article on “The Cheapest Generation” does a lot of talking about how young people’s buying habits have been changing. Specifically, they’re buying fewer cars and houses and even when they buy them, they’re going with smaller and cheaper ones. Some of that can be chalked up to the recent economic collapse, but the article argues that even the collapse doesn’t quite explain it all.
In any event, the article has one line which explains so much of the current generation in a single, short sentence that it’s stuck with me ever since I read it.
Young people prize “access over ownership,” said Sheryl Connelly, head of global consumer trends at Ford.
It explains the transition from car ownership to Zipcar. It explains the shift from buying music to subscription services like Pandora and Spotify. It also explains why people are mostly happy to jump to the cloud—where they don’t own their data, but do have access to it. It even explains a bunch of the mentality of Facebook—focusing on providing the cleanest simplest way to give people access to their lives even as they give up control of things.
Apparently, Ford employs some smart people.