The Millennial Hit List: Businesses Millennials Are Killing

cereal is amongst one of the businesses millennials are killing

In the US, the millennial population is roughly 75 million strong, and this year they are expected to surpass the baby boomers by taking the spot as America’s largest living adult generation. Just by sheer numbers, it is easy to see the power the millennials wield in various segments of the society. By the year 2030, the aggregate global millennial income is estimated to reach $16 trillion. As such, millennials have growing spending power and are beginning to create a reputation as a ruthless industry-killing machine. The burgeoning list of businesses millennials are killing seems to confirm this claim.

Sifting through the “fatalities,” observers are inclined to ask, what’s the motive behind these so-called deaths of businesses?

Here’s a Roundup of Businesses Millennials are Killing:

1. Casual Dining Chains

Casual Dining Chains have been taking a beating in the past few years. In 2017, Applebee’s announced plans to close more than 100 branches. Ruby Tuesday’s sales have been failing and were down by 8.2% in 2018. Similarly, Buffalo Wild Wings reported a 5.2% drop in sales for the third quarter of 2017. Former Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith, in a letter to shareholders, captured the reasons behind it. “Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.”

2. Big Beer

Beer has been losing market share to spirits and wines since 2006. Coors Light, Budweiser, and Heineken can confirm this with dipping sales figures. It could be that the years of anti-alcohol education have done its job. Or the marketing efforts of previous years does not appeal to the younger generation anymore. Clearly, beer has made it to the list of businesses millennials are killing.

3. Cereal

Sales for cereal fell to $10 billion in 2015 compared to $13.9 billion in the year 2000. The millennials are caught red-handed, earning them the moniker “cereal killers”. Some say millennials are too lazy to clean up. Others point to the millennials’ on-the-go lifestyle. Some studies claim that millennials are watching their calorie and sugar intake. From the millennials’ time-strapped and health-conscious perspective, these are compelling reasons why they may be killing this sector.

4. Homeownership

Homeownership rates amongst millennials were low at 37% in 2014. Delaying marriage, preference to rent over homeownership, and choosing to stay within urban areas are some of the reasons why homeownership inched its way to the list of businesses millennials are killing. However, the trend may change down the road as millennials start to shift priorities. Unfortunately, at the moment, millennials are allocating their resources to other areas of their lives, like experiences and travels.

5. Diamonds

Diamonds are not a millennial’s best friend. For “woke millennials,” the environmental and societal impact of mining diamonds is not worth the sparkle from a single ring. To them, diamonds are excessive and utterly unnecessary. Most now prefer synthetically produced diamonds and alternative gems that are ethically sourced.

6. Department Stores

Department stores like Macy’s, JC Penney, Kmart, and Sears have been closing down. The culprit? The millennials who are changing shopping habits. Department stores face challenges gaining and keeping the interest of the millennials. Store setups and layout are outdated, which can alienate younger shoppers. Then there’s the boom of the online shopping industry, which offers shopping with far greater convenience.

7. Designer Labels

Designer clothing is no exception to the millennial hit list, as they view fashion in a different light. For millennials, it’s all about fast fashion—styles that are authentic, wearable, trendy and affordable. The sales figures for brands like Abercrombie, Aeropostale, and Hollister are proof. While the millennials are the most fashion-conscious among generational groups, they are also vigilant for brand messaging and marketing campaigns.

Conscious Choices: The Millennial Impetus

Karl Mannheim’s Generational Theories (1927) expounds that a generation’s view of social issues is highly influenced by the events that occurr within the generation’s time period. These events help shape the generation’s shared value system. The millennials witnessed the Gulf War, the World Trade Center Attacks, and the Great Recession of 2008—events which had a tremendous financial and historical global impact.

Growing up in a world besieged by crisis and challenges, the millennials learned to let go of what doesn’t work anymore. Moreover, they had to find practical ways to tackle issues head on. The long list of businesses millennials are killing is a result of the conscious choices and authentic self-expression of a generation.


Don’t worry—it’s not all bad! We will be back with part two of this story: The Businesses Millennials are Reviving. If you have a suggestion for the list, please comment below.

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Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.

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