April 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM ET
Consumer tastes are changing at a greater rate than ever before. Not surprisingly, the purchasing habits of the youngest generation present the most dramatic shifts -- a reflection of what they find important. 24/7 Wall St. has identified eight popular products that the “Facebook generation” is not buying.
Generation Y, generally defined as those born between 1980 and 1999, have lost interest in many of the services and products their parents found important. For example, younger Americans are less interested in cars. In 1998, 64.4 percent of potential drivers 19-years old and younger had drivers licenses. By 2008, that rate had dropped to 46.3 percent, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
What young adults care about has shifted. A recent study by Gartner research revealed that, if forced to choose, 46 percent of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the United States would choose access to the Internet over access to a car.
However, many products that have declined in popularity among the youth are more a result of the changing tastes across all ages than a generational shift. Examples include lower sales in traditional cell phones, maps and CDs. In 2002, compact discs had a more than 95 percent market share of music sales. In 2010, they had less than half. Various reports suggest this decline is the result of all age groups moving away from CD sales toward digital sales.
24/7 Wall St. has identified eight of the country’s most popular products that are losing favor, either solely among young adults or at a significantly higher rate among that group. To demonstrate these products’ waning popularity, 24/7 reviewed data from a number of major research firms and government agencies. We looked at products in every major sector, including transportation, digital electronics, food, beverages and other miscellaneous consumer goods.
In 2010, at the launch of Facebook’s then-new messaging service, Mark Zuckerberg predicted the decline of electronic mail, stating that “E-mail is too slow ... e-mail is too formal.” Time is proving Zuckerberg right. From December 2009 to December 2010, time spent using e-mail by the 12-to-17-year-old age group dropped a tremendous 59 percent. In comparison, time spent using email by people 55-to-64-years-old has increased 22 percent, and it has increased 28 percent among those 65 years and older.
Light beer has become to the current generation of youth what regular beer was just a few decades ago. In 1990, more Budweiser was sold than the top three light beers combined. Twenty years later, Budweiser has taken a backseat to Bud Light, which sold as much as the top four regular beers combined. The country has taken a major generational shift in favor of light beers, which now account for four of the five most popular beers sold domestically. As reported by St. Louis Today, Budweiser believes four out of 10 people in their mid-20s have never tried regular beer. In 1988, that rate was just 1.5 out of ten. Beer Marketer’s Insights editor Eric Shepard said when asked about young drinkers turning to light beer, “The heaviest beer drinkers are young males and that's where the market had been going over the last decade or so.”
While readership rates for print newspapers are falling across the board, the country’s younger generation has abandoned the medium the most. As of 2010, only 7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported having read a print newspaper the day before, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. This is the first time that figure has reached single digits. This age group also has among the highest rates of people reportedly receiving news through social networking sites or Twitter.
As recently as 1998, 64.4 percent of potential drivers ages 19 and younger had drivers licenses, according to the Federal Highway Administration. As of 2008, that amount had dropped to 46.3 percent. Additionally, 46 percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 report that they would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to research firm Gartner. People are also waiting longer to get their licenses. According to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, in 1983 one-third of all licensed drivers in U.S. were under 30. Today, only 22 percent of drivers are under 30. Companies such as General Motors have reached out to more youth-oriented advertising companies, such as MTV Scratch, to address this widening gap in their sales.