Published on: June 27, 2019
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Well, I seem to be getting to that point in life where I’m going to more weddings than in recent years. (Also more funerals, but that’s for a different FaceTime…) We’re going as guests, and as I’ve mentioned here in the past, I’ve also had the opportunity to officiate at a couple (thanks to my ordination in the universal Life Church).
I was perusing a website that has been set up by two young people who are friends of our family and who are getting married later this summer, mostly because I wanted to make sure that the one suit that I own will be appropriate. (I wear it to funerals and weddings, and to emcee the annual City of Hope gala, and that’s pretty much all the use it gets.) But while I was there, I decided to check to see where they are registered, mostly because I wanted to impress Mrs. Content Guy with such in-depth knowledge.
Go figure … they’re registered at REI. Not what I expected, and it took a little doing to convince Mrs. Content Guy that I hadn’t imagined it. Or hallucinated it.
The thing is, just a day or two later there were a couple of stories in the Washington Post making the point that our young friends aren’t alone, or even all that unique, inn picking out such a seemingly unorthodox place to register for wedding presents.
It used to be housewares and fine china and flatware and bedding that young people would register for, but not anymore. The Post reports that engaged couples are asking for things like TSA Pre-Check … tickets to Harry Potter World … snorkeling lessons … and the like. And, they can be incredibly practical in their requests, asking for things like fertility treatments, or money they can put toward college loans or down payments on homes.
Some of this shift is because these young people are hungry for experiences and less interested in getting “things,” and some of it is because a large majority of them are living together and have many of the things they need for a home.
(I’d like to point out here that I was a man ahead of his time. I thought when I got married more than 36 years ago that it was silly to get Waterford crystal and fine dishes … I correctly predicted that these would be things that would be put away and only be used once every couple of years, if then.)
Another Post story made the point that wedding cakes are out. Something like a third of all weddings are now featuring some other dessert: “Cobbler carts and cookie bars with big apothecary jars of toppings. Macaron displays, fruit pies or a waffle station. Tiny desserts with little bourbon pairings. Individual sweet treats served on the dance floor.”
The Post points out that this does not seem to be a trend driven by costs - it is just that these newlyweds want what they want, and see no reason to observe a tradition that has no meaning to them.
This is, I think, a good lesson with broader implications. A lot of retailers and manufacturers tend to think that in many ways, while consumer attitudes do evolve, in many ways (and more than they would like to admit) the next generation will resemble their parents, and that as long as they get the fundamentals right, everything will be okay.
I don’t think that’s true. I think the next generation will resemble us in far fewer ways than we’d like to admit, I think they have different priorities and different expectations … and I think that in some ways they have their heads screwed on straighter than I did at their age.
Businesses not in touch with these basic differences inevitably will find themselves at a disadvantage, because they’ll be marketing flatware to people who would rather have money to go on a canoe trip, or marketing cake to people who prefer pie.
That’s no way to do business.
About that pie thing, by the way … I’m totally on board. Because as Mrs. Content guy would confirm, one of the ways to my heart is through my stomach.
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: