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01 September 2020 | GSAM Connect

Experience Required

A much cited characteristic of the millennial generation is the greater desire for experiences over ownership of goods, relative to previous generations. This ‘NOwnership’ mindset probably stems from a combination of a lack of affordability of expensive assets (houses, cars) for younger millennials and creating an avatar-like existence on social media demonstrating an endlessly exciting life. Pre-Covid-19, there had been a global trend of accelerated travel, dining out and watching live entertainment in an increasingly digital life.

Although Covid-19 has put somewhat of a pause on things for the moment, Sojern, an ad-tech firm, found that while global online searches in April for flights departing over the summer of 2020 had collapsed, interest in flights scheduled for later in the year has held up better. This indicates that the pause is likely to be temporary, with people globally itching to get travelling again.

Rather than focusing on materials goods and luxury items, millennials are prioritising holidays that offer experiences. Countries like Australia for instance, particularly pre-Covid-19, were benefitting from a huge increase in tourist numbers as its iconic natural attractions – from the Great Barrier Reef to an accommodating kangaroo – offer the perfect ‘selfie’ opportunity.

Second only to vacations on the millennials’ list of most desired experiences, are live music events. Before Covid-19 hit, the overall music industry was only just beginning to stabilize after a period of long revenue decline. Live music, on the other hand, had enjoyed 20 years of uninterrupted growth. This growth has previously been immune to recessions – live music revenues increased in 2008, 2009 and 2012 – and much of this has been due to the increasing spending power of millennials.

In a world of instant downloads and online streaming, live performances represent the last bastion of control and differentiation for leading artists, old and new, and the live performance bandwagon continues to grow. Nevertheless, demand for such events from the Millennial generation is seemingly insatiable, with most major events selling out within seconds of ticket release in normal times and still presenting much opportunity during the pandemic.  Rolling Stone magazine reported that bts, a k-pop band, earned around $20m from a virtual show for 750,000 fans*. Post-pandemic live streaming is not likely to replace live events but offer fans the ability to see musicians more readily.


*Source:  The Economist, June 2020

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About the Author

Luke Barrs

Luke Barrs

Head of the Fundamental Equity Client Portfolio Management Team, EMEA, Goldman Sachs Asset Management

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