Obamacare is rolling out in full force. Have you signed up for your new plan yet? If you answered ‘no,’ I’m going to go out on a limb and say chances are you might be part of Gen Y, better known as millennials. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, adults between the ages of 18 and 34 only account for 24% of people currently signed up for health coverage. In order for the system to be sustainable, the number needs to be at least 40%. So what’s the problem? Where’s the disconnect? Well, the disconnect is surprisingly similar to what I’m experiencing in my own apartment hunt. In fact the points listed in the Obamacare care article have a surprising parallel to some of the obstacles the multifamily industry faces in marketing to the next generation of renters.
“We’re not ignorant,” reporter Angela Perkey stated in the Post, “but we also don’t want to spend an afternoon, or worse several days as some have experienced, choosing a health plan.” I may have stated in the past that I’m lazy but that was more self-deprecating and woefully inaccurate. I, like many others in Gen Y, am actually quite impatient and passive, not lazy. Without the promise of a decent payoff it’s hard to invest time in something that comes off as boring, even if it’s something important like health insurance or finding a place to live. It can be a real drag having to take the time to go to leasing offices and look at community floor plans and to apply for apartment communities I have no guarantee of getting in to. Sometimes the questions on those applications can be a bit overwhelming.
Advertisements aren’t quite connecting either. Millennials aren’t a new thing, yet most people are having a hard time advertising directly to us. Gen Y is either treated as a bunch of idiots or ads become overly ironic trying to please the Hipster subculture. On the rare occasions I even acknowledge traditional print media that crosses my path, apartment and housing ads can be dreadfully boring, shoving in lines like “free wifi!” into the advertisement. It’s like they think the ad can be whatever they want as long as ‘free wifi’ is in there. Which, you know, free wifi is definitely important, but free wifi does not a good ad make. But do mention any specials you may be having. We do so love a good deal.
What can the housing industry do to reach Gen Y? Making things personable is definitely the best bet. “Tell us stories of people like us,” Perkey pleads. We like honesty and can usually tell when someone’s trying to pull one over on us. Also, though using social media might seem like one of those dead horse suggestions people keep on beating, you truly can’t underestimate its power; it’s one of the best ways to spread information.
Don’t feel too downtrodden. Go forth and continue on! We’re a fiercely loyal bunch of ragamuffins, so keep trying— we all know the payoff will be fantastic.