We’re all millennials now

It’s a terrifying experience when you wake up and realise you’re turning into your parents. I had this realisation not too long ago. I’m officially turning into my Dad! Walking the dogs in the morning, followed by coffee in the kitchen… before making my way to my desk. And with a second lockdown, I’m not alone. A large proportion of the world’s population is “staying at home”. Workplaces, spending habits and businesses have changed. 2020 has been the year for companies to adapt and evolve to remain relevant. It has also been the year when our parents are turning into us…

‘Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology.’ – Mal Fletcher, author

Pre-Covid, 46%* of millennials worked from home. Post-Covid, that number is likely to increase. And, importantly, this increase will be across generations. Although companies are unlikely to switch completely to a working from home culture, the common consensus is that many will split their time into three days at the office and two at home.

Another area where older generations are taking on the habits of the young is in the way we consume our food. Over the past few years, the food industry has been responding to major shifts in the way young people eat. For example, Millennials have been more likely to eat at restaurants, pick up prepared meals, or order take-outs. However, the recent Eat Out to Help Out encouraged all ages to go out to restaurants and indulge in deliveries. While pubs and restaurants are once again temporarily closed, takeaways have soared and there are even rumours of Eat Out to Help Out 2.0.

Delivery Hero has become the largest food delivery platform outside China. Catharine Flood, Corporate Strategy Director for Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, commented: “The pandemic may well accelerate Delivery Hero’s near-term growth, as more restaurants and customers sign up to its platform, but the relevant question for us as long-term investors is whether the immediate impacts from the pandemic lead to longer-term shifts in behaviour.”

The pandemic has also shifted consumer behaviour in 2020 – maybe more than at any other time in history. While Millennials have always found comfort in the easy 1,2,3 click of Amazon Prime and online grocery shopping, other generations are changing their buying habits with lockdown even getting Baby Boomers to shop online – some for the very first time.

While Covid has accelerated the e-commerce industry’s growth and companies like Amazon – a holding in T. Rowe Price US Large Cap Growth Equity and Threadneedle Global Extended Alpha – it also means that more businesses are joining the e-commerce revolution than ever before. Services like Shopify, a holding in Baillie Gifford American, has made it easier for small businesses to gain an online presence. Businesses are also increasingly offering a variety of payment methods. Payments are a core theme in Guinness Global Innovators fund whose managers argue “digital wallets such as Apple Pay and PayPal are facilitating more secure payments alongside better user experiences.”

And if ordering food online was previously a no-no for older generations, spare a thought for online banking. While grandparents have been wary of exchanging a cheque book for a banking app, Covid became a catalyst for change here too. Cash wasn’t excepted. Banks offered limited services. Overnight life – and banking – went online.

Today, contactless payments are seeing all-time high levels of adoption. For example, in the US, overall usage of contactless payments in the country has risen 150% since March 2019**. Accenture, a holding in BMO Responsible Global Equity and Morgan Stanley Global Brands, believes a strong push toward a cashless society is the number one potential long-term impact that the pandemic may have on global payments processes***. From contactless payments to ‘no-touch’ ways to pay for public transport, the current landscape is fertile ground for contactless technology to take off.

Online banking, takeouts and working from home…we’re all Millennials now.

*Source: Gallup 2020, Will Millennials Finally Get the Workplace They Want?
**Source: Forbes 2020, Banking after Covid-19: the rise of contactless payments in the U.S.
***Accenture 2020, The top eight ways covid-19 will impact payments

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