New Research: Things Millennials Are Killing, According to Twitter Topic Analysis

By Gemma Joyce on August 7th 2017

Millennials are responsible for the cold blooded murder of many an industry and item – or so it would seem if you spend much time reading online articles.

The Brandwatch React team thought we’d take a look into this. As Millennials ourselves we struggle to swat flies, but apparently we are to blame for the deaths of all kinds of things. We wanted to find out exactly what is at risk from our murderous lifestyle choices.

Since the phrase “Millennials are killing ___” has become a meme in itself, we imagined we’d find a fair bit of conversation, and we did.

Methodology

We searched for mentions of “Millennials are killing” on Twitter (excluding retweets) between 1st January and 30 July 2017. Overall, there were just over 1,500.

We then downloaded those mentions and ran them through Excel to find and retrieve the 25 characters that followed the phrase. So, for example, if someone tweeted “Millennials are killing coffee shops”, we’d collect the term “coffee shops”. Then we plugged that list into a word counter that identifies the most common words in a list.

We removed a few that didn’t make sense (e.g. unfinished words consisting of one letter) or weren’t referring to things being killed (for example “articles” was one of the top-mentioned words, but referred to articles about things millennials had killed – not that they had killed articles).

And then we were left with a list, and what a weird and wonderful list it was…

Things Millennials are killing

Here it is, in all it’s glory.

Things Millennials are killing

So Millennials are killing off all kinds of traditional American money makers. Let’s take a closer look.

A foodie theme

According to our list, Millennials are killing off chain(s), Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebees, restaurant(s) and lunch.

Their impact on the food service industry is well documented, and lots of these mentions consisted of titles of news articles in big publications like Business Insider and The Next Web.

Things Millennials are killing Things Millennials are killing

Millennials’ assault on the restaurant industry is two-fold.

Experience

Millennials care about how Instagrammable an experience is. Eating out isn’t so much about the pigging out as it is the likes.

Restaurants that don’t provide the correct decoration, garnish and even lighting are not catering to an audience that likes to snap photos of their plates and make all their friends jealous.

Eating quick and staying home

Buffalo Wild Wings’ CEO Sally Smith told Business Insider, “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.”

Firms like Deliveroo are widening take-out options massively, but not all casual dining restaurants are exploiting delivery services just yet. With more and more millennials eating at home for the simple reasons of convenience and affordability, it seems like an important step for these restaurants to get on board with.


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Industry(ies)

The fact that Millennials are said to be disrupting multiple industries speaks to the perceived power of their choices.

Millennials aren’t buying homes, playing golf, eating at restaurants, etc – and it’s undeniably having a big effect. The breadth of things Millennials have killed in our list is a testament to their economic impact.

Times they are a changin’.

Beer

According to AOL, Millennials aren’t drinking enough beer to keep big beer brands afloat. Millennials who do drink reportedly prefer wine to beer (drinking 42% of all wine drunk in the US last year).

Perhaps it’s not all bad for the beer industry, though. While mass-produced beer appears to be having a hard time attracting Millennial drinkers, the rise of micro breweries and craft beer can’t be ignored. In line with Millennial preferences for quality, authenticity, and new experiences, new beer brands are enjoying their day in the sun.

Stores

Millennials are killing bookstores, department stores and grocery stores. Basically, if you have a store, be vigilant of 20-somethings perusing the aisles.

Ordering online is, of course, a huge factor here – although Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos can hardly be considered a Millennial (no offense, Jeff Bezos).


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Diamonds

This, alongside ‘golf’, was a fairly random one in the list of things Millennials are killing.

According to The Economist, the diamond industry is struggling to attract Millennial buyers: “Young consumers increasingly shun the taint of conflict and exploitation.”

Perhaps this is no bad thing.

Are Millennials really murderers?

While the slew of “Millennials are killing x” articles might paint young consumers as flocks of grim reapers, it doesn’t seem very fair.

Many of the tweets we saw were commenting on the way Millennial behavior was discussed in the media, instead of naming particular items that are being killed, and lots of it was sarcastic.

There were two themes that jumped out in the commentary that relieved some of the murderous responsibility of Millennials.

“That’s capitalism”

“Millennials are killing x” is just a euphemism for rapidly changing markets that, as a generation of tech-savvy life-long smartphone users gains spending power, are going to keep on changing no matter how many people mourn the loss of the department store.

The industries named above don’t suffer as a result of the malevolent work of spiteful young people. Instead, you could argue it’s a reflection of changing taste no different to when cars replaced the horse and cart, or when the rise of Instagram aligned with the decline of Kodak. The prominence of “shitty” in the list lends some weight to this – the things Millennials are killing, according to this commentary, are shit and deserve to be killed.

In some cases – perhaps the decline of the diamond industry or rise of independent breweries – changing markets can be seen as a good thing.

The casualties of some of these changing tastes, however, particularly as big business works to optimise and automate alongside them, could be great.

Economic uncertainty

Not all of these changing tastes come down to people making decisions in a world of infinite choice, however.

Instead, many commented on Millennials’ lack of choice. It would be great to buy homes or eat out every night but financial hardship means they can’t.

Things like crippling student debt and coming of age just as the financial crisis hit (plunging parents into financial stress) undoubtedly have an affect on how Millennials choose to spend their money, claims Kate Taylor.

Of course, considerations like these are overshadowed when Millennials’ soft spot for avocado toast becomes a major part of the discourse surrounding their downfalls.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email us at react@brandwatch.com for more information.


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Gemma Joyce

@GLJoyce

Gemma is the social data journalist heading up Brandwatch React. As well as being first with the current affairs data, Gemma loves pizza, politics, and long reads. Her work has been featured in publications like Financial Times, Wired, Business Insider, and PR Week

  • Moose McKinley

    Hi everybody!

  • Obi Alfred

    Hey bro

  • paul littlebury

    “… shun the taint of conflict and exploitation” yeah, right …. #mobilephones #apple #fashion. it’s a shallow generation, that as yet hasn’t produced anything tangible. Apart from ability to celebrate themselves – every day.

  • O. Biwan

    Don’t talk about Baby Boomers like that!