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I By THYDA DUONG Long Beach Business Journal T he Millennial population is defined as the group of individuals ages 20 to 37. And while the age gap between this population may be large the spaces between them literally arent necessarily so. Thats because a key characteristic of this GenY population is its desire to live connectedly. The concept of connectivity is so important said Tim Sullivan practice leader at Meyers Research LLC. And its not just connectivity through technology its connectivity with your peers. . . . If were talking about a typical Millennial the activity of a commercial mixed-use environment is going to be vital to their lives because of that connectedness that really drives their happiness. In fact a recent Urban Land Institute noted that one-third of Millennials think of themselves as city people though only 13 percent of them live in or near actual downtowns. I believe that urbanis a mindset as much as it is a geographic destination explained Michelle Mace national consumer segmentation specialist and principal of boutique strategic marketing consultancy M3B Inc. Millennials are technology natives and their social media world has them living in a way that feels urban even though they might live in an exurban area. Likewise Sullivan noted strong social influence impacting Millennial decision-making. Millennials are no longer as the boomers would be acknowledging wisdom as the driver of how things should be decided Sullivan said. They appeal to and absolutely listen to the power of the crowd. And that crowd just happens to be the Millennial population itself which now represents the largest generation to date exceeding the Baby Boomers according to Mace. The preferences and interests of this population are therefore particularly poignant especially given the sheer size and resulting influence this generation has and is expected to have as it ages and gains more spending power. They are the largest demographic buying force in America today in terms of population Mace said noting that within the next seven years the first of the Millennials will reach their peak earning years defined as ages 45 to 54. If the Baby Boomers have defined every stage of life that they have moved through because of their sheer size and the spending power that goes with being so big as a generation the Millennials now have that same power. According to data compiled by The Nielsen Company there are 18.3 million Millennial households ages 25 to 34 in the United States making up roughly 15 percent of U.S. households and 15 percent of Southern California households. California is home to 5.6 million Millennials ages 25 to 34 with 3.1 million of those living in Southern California. Mace and Sullivan agreed that different from the baby boomer generation the mindset of Millennials has been influenced by a defining set of social political and economic circumstances that have shaped their decision-making particularly when it comes to home-buying. Theyre old enough to have remembered the recession Sullivan said. If they were in their teens during the recession and maybe a parent lost a job or the family lost their home thats a very defining incident. . . . Those types of economic chal- lenges or economic traumas will influence their behavior the rest of their lives. As a result Mace said Millennials are establishing their own values as a result of what they experienced at the time of the recession. They look at value differ- ently than generations past Mace added. For them value isnt just about price . . . they value living connected. They value living among multiple generations. And they value quality. So its going to change what first-time home- ownership looks like among this generation. Its going to change the standards that this group accepts and wants. And yet affordability is going to be an issue for them for sure but theyre going to hold out for quality. A Changing Demographic Landscape The Growing Influence Of Millennials 22 Millennials are technology natives and their social media world has them living in a way that feels urban even though they might live in an exurban area. Michelle Mace Principal M3B Inc. Mobile connectivity with friends family and career is important to Millennials. 2015_OlsonCompanyInTownLiving_PortAnniversary 8815 118 PM Page 22