Millennials to Play Huge Role in Shaping the Sharing Economy

They’re tech savvy, diverse, and value experience over ownership. Get ready.

The Millennial generation — those born between 1981 and 1997 — is the largest generation in American history. With the youngest Millennials now eligible to vote, their attitudes and beliefs are poised to reshape American politics and society for decades.

As you can see in the graph above, while Millennials may all be able to vote, they are still young in terms of holding elected office. At the moment, their political clout still falls short of their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. This will shift rapidly in coming years, as Millennials gain more civic experience and run for office in greater numbers.

The graph below shows Millennials in 2025, when American Millennials will be ages 28–44 and poised to drive policy in many municipalities and states — perhaps even nationally. Globally, Millennials and the next youngest generation, Gen Z, will comprise 50% of eligible voters and 76% of what is known in advertising as the “key demographic of consumers” (ages 18–49) by 2025.

Pair that buying power with their emerging political clout and some interesting things start to happen. For example, although Austin banned ride sharing services Uber and Lyft in May 2016, the demand for such services among Millennials constituents did not go away. Result: a number of similar services popped up to fill the vacuum. That disconnect between bureaucrats and their constituents clearly illustrated the need for civic policy that reflects the needs of Millennials, and not just their aging parents or grandparents.

Former Mayor of Houston Annise Parker, who dealt with regulatory challenges during her tenure, addressed these generational differences in an interview with Reinvent. “My generation, Gen Xers, and now Millennials, all have very different ideas about ownership and how we want to interact with the world,” said Parker. “This is the future. Those of us — mostly Baby Boomers — who are making the decisions have to understand that the world Millennials want is not perhaps the world we wanted.”

Millennials rarely fit the stereotype of the apathetic layabouts that older generations have often tried to apply to them. For starters, Millennials are more culturally diverse than previous generations, and more technologically savvy. They also value flexibility, and prioritize experience over ownership. They’re worried about climate change.

John Della Volpe, Director of Polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and Founder and CEO of SocialSphere, has been studying Millennials since 2000. In an interview with Reinvent, Della Volpe predicted that Millennials will play a key role in shaping the sharing economy, and he thinks that elected officials need to do more to engage them.

One thing is clear — whether you have a positive impression of Millennials, or think they’re more akin to snake people — it’s time to understand the Millennial vision for the country. Right now, they’re in a great position to make it a reality.