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Millennials; the Impact of a Generation

We are all using technology differently and this led to a discussion on the influence of younger generations on the world economy.

Millennials sharing content on social network with mobile smart phones

Simon Martin


With around one third of the global population living under some form of coronavirus-induced lock-down, a huge proportion of families are facing a shift in their way of life.  We are all using technology differently and this led to a discussion on the influence of younger generations on the world economy.  In particular, we found a fascinating presentation by Goldman Sachs on millennial consumption and lifestyle habits that are shifting to the broader population.

Regardless of generations, the coronavirus crisis has brought about a sudden change in habits, with many areas of daily life moving quickly from offline to online.  Older generations, who may never have previously used online food delivery or e-commerce regularly,  are beginning to adopt such technologies out of necessity; millions of children worldwide have had classrooms replaced by online learning; many forms of social interaction – from talking to grandparents, dating, pub quizzes and everything business-related have moved online.  There is a new level of dependency on the internet and our mobile devices for many facets of everyday life.  We think this newfound need and familiarity with navigating the world online will endure past the current crisis.

Moving onto the question regarding the impact of millennials on the global economy, it is increasingly obvious that millennials will become the most powerful consumer sector across the world for many decades to come.  They have different financial priorities when compared to previous generations and these changing spending habits have been the driving force that has led to the disruption of many traditional businesses. 

For clarity, millennials are anybody born between 1980 and 1999, hence they are currently between 20-39 years old.  Accounting for 2.3 billion people across the world, according to the World Bank, they are now the largest population cohort in history and as a result, it is forecast that their income will exceed all previous generations by as early as 2025.   They will be working until 2060~2075 and hence this earnings capacity is only going to grow and will power the economies in Asia, America and to a lesser extent Europe.

graph - millennials' income

Source Goldman Sachs Global Millennials Equity Portfolio presentation

graph - millennials live in emerging markets

Source Goldman Sachs Global Millennials Equity Portfolio presentation

One of the most important features of Goldman Sach’s report is that 86% of millennials live in Japan, China, India and South-East Asia.  Asian millennials are currently as wealthy as developed market millennials.  For example, in Asia, their total wealth is currently calculated to be $7.7 trillion, whereas, in Western Europe and North America, millennials only account for $6.8 trillion.

In addition to spending capacity, they are making a massive difference on the adoption of new innovation and technology.  The chart below shows the number of years it has taken until 50 million users were adopting a particular technology.  For example, it took 68 years for 50 million users to be using airlines.  It was 62 years for cars, the telephone took 50 years and electricity 46 years.  However, with mobile phones, it only took 12 years, the internet 7 years, Facebook 3 years and Pokémon Go (don’t ask me what that is!) 19 days.   

graph - pace of technological change

Source Goldman Sachs Global Millennials Equity Portfolio presentation

As you can see from the following table, spending in China, America and India from millennials is going to increase enormously over the next 10-15 years.  In India, we are expecting to see spending by the millennial age group double.  In America, it's going to go up from just under $3 trillion to about $5 trillion and in China, it is expected to go up from just over $3 trillion to just under $5 trillion.

graph - millennials spending

Source Goldman Sachs Global Millennials Equity Portfolio presentation

These are phenomenal amounts of money that are going to be spent by this generation and is, therefore, providing a huge investment opportunity.  This is another reason why we have recently decided to redirect our focus on both American and Asia markets, as their companies are going to benefit from this phenomenal growth in consumer spending.  

At the moment most of the millennial cohort are in the development stage of their careers.   However, when they get to the middle of their careers there will be a huge increase in demand for healthcare and pension provision.  Hence the reason why we think this is the start of a multi decade phenomena long term trend which will drive spend on technology and, as they progress through the ages, spending on healthcare and the desire to be “well for longer”.

Social and Environmental Investing

In surveys, millennials indicate that they are more concerned about the environment and social equality hence the big increase in demand for socially responsible investing.   Which is why we are starting to build exposure to electric vehicle development and sustainable asset classes into our portfolios. Socially responsible investing is something we will look to explore further in future commentaries.


Millennials are creating a long term growth opportunity for us as investors and one that will be seen across many of our core themes.  We continue to transition towards America and Asia, as we focus on sub-themes such as e-commerce and social media, the connected world, sustainable living, health and wellness etc.

We hope you have a pleasant bank holiday weekend and that over the next few weeks you will get the opportunity to meet up with family and friends once again.  In the meantime, please stay safe and, as per usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to email us and we will get back to you as fast as we can.


Nothing in this article should be construed as personal advice based on your circumstances.  No news or research item is a personal recommendation to deal.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. Investors may get back less than invested.

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