[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]
If you were born after 1980, you’re a Millennial. But if you live in an urban area, you probably think like one, regardless of your age.
That is the takeaway from the fifth annual survey of Millennials from Zipcar. Released this month, Zipcar’s report confirms something many of us have expected for quite a while: that city dwellers across all generations have a Millennial mindset. This suggests, according to Zipcar, that where one lives is as important as age in determining attitudes and behaviors towards transportation.
Zipcar, the company credited with inventing “the sharing economy” before that term had even been coined, is in the business of hourly car rentals. The company primarily operates in dense urban locations where car ownership is expensive or inconvenient. Millennials are a large subset of Zipcar’s customers, explaining the company’s preoccupation with this age cohort.
For the past five years, Zipcar has commissioned studies examining Millennials’ attitudes towards technology, transportation, and lifestyle. Much of what we know (or think we know) about Millennials stems from this research. Zipcar’s previous studies have concluded that Millennials:
- are environmentally conscious
- would sooner part with their car, television or computer than their smartphone
- prefer walking, biking, transit, or carpooling over driving, and
- find it difficult to own a car because of the high cost of gas, parking, and maintenance.
Much has been made about how the above value systems of Millennials differ from other generations. Zipcar’s newest survey dispels that idea somewhat.
In its 2015 survey of 1,001 Americans aged 18 or older, Zipcar analyzed responses not only by age but by geographic location as well — urban, suburban, and rural. Zipcar found that Millennials’ responses were strikingly similar to those of city dwellers across all age groups.
For instance, both Millennials and urbanites of all ages prefer active or alternative transportation modes to driving.
Both Millennials and urbanites are environmentally conscious, and drive less as a result.
Urbanites and Millennials are identical in their desire for more walkable amenities in their community.
Zipcar says these results suggest that behaviors and attitudes previously considered “Millennial” aren’t just a factor of someone’s age, but where they live as well. In fact, Zipcar’s study shows that Millennials who live in urban locations are even more “Millennial” than the age cohort in general. Zipcar calls this group “Hyper-Millennials.”
Many cities have assumed that their future success and relevance depends upon attracting Millennials. But do people decide where to live based on their preferences, or are their preferences shaped by where they live? The answer to both questions is probably yes.
Graphics by Zipcar and photo by Flickr User Thomas8047