Generational Demographics in the Self-Storage Market
Updated: Mar 29
Collecting is an American pastime, note the excitement of the gold rush of the 1800s, the nostalgia of your baseball collection growing up, or your child’s jar of seashells from family vacations. At Precision Global, we have been keeping your collections safe through our investments in storage-unit facilities. In order to better understand our customer demographic, we have studied generational demographics of today. What is a generational demographic? Think of the jargon and generalizations being used in current news cycles on almost a daily basis. “Boomer’s have been…” or “Millennials aren’t buying…” These colloquialisms are actually informative and descriptive classifications between spans of generations today. These titles, derived as a direct result of the events that transpired around the time of their birth through adulthood, specifically here in the United States, help to classify consumer economic patterns by essentially categorizing people to determine what they buy at stages in their lives and why.
First and foremost, let’s dive into our key demographic as investors, Baby Boomers. Born between 1944 and 1964, this group is aged roughly 56 to 76 years old. They received their name mainly due to the good fortune of soldiers coming home after WWII and the subsequent babies born thereafter- a literal baby boom. There are around 76 million ‘Boomers’ alive in the U.S. today. This group in particular has a lifetime of accumulated memories; some date back to being passed down from their parents and grandparents, but most are collected over the years while raising their families. Examples in this collection include but aren’t limited to old war memorabilia from ancestors, baby clothes and special items they can’t bear to part with, and moreover stuff left behind from kids as they go to college or move into their own homes. This group is typically at the stage of life where they are thinking of or actively planning retiring soon or have retired and are currently downsizing, either into smaller condos, retirement communities, or assisted living facilities as they themselves age and their children gain independence and begin to start families of their own. Boomers typically have low debt as their mortgages on their homes and cars have been paid off. As boomers plan for and head towards retirement, downsizing becomes essential and the demand for storage increases. Additionally, this downsizing can put pressure on their children to take in family heirlooms like china and ornate furniture, things from their childhood, and any personal effects that boomers don’t wish to take with them as they downsize but can’t bear to get rid of.
Often the children of Baby Boomers, Generation X was born in the years 1965-1979 and are aged roughly 41 to 55 years old. There are an estimated 82 million people in the U.S. that would be classified into this generational category. Their age range puts them in the stage of life where their parents are aging into retirement or more often have already retired, but their kids are aging between teen adolescence and mid-twenties. Thus, Generation X is generally looking at smart ways to reduce debt as they continue paying off their home. They are also actively planning to save for retirement and are helping their kids with college tuition. Generation X differs from their parents again when it comes to loan debt; they are still paying a mortgage, might have car payments, and they sometimes take on debt caring for aging parents. These situations all affect the way Generation X invests and opt for more long-term storage needs. Generation X has accumulated and kept household items, older furniture, appliances, etc. to be passed down to their kids for their starter-homes and apartments, often meaning their garages and/or attics are full of boxes. Storage units are a great way to declutter these spaces.
The generation with statistically the highest debt of all these subgroups is Generation Y, more commonly known as Millennials. A hot button talking point, Millennials are talked about constantly in today’s news circulation. This is due to many factors facing this the largest age-ranging generational group. Born between 1980 and 1994, there are approximately 73 million millennials living in the U.S between the ages of 26 and 40. The incredible accomplishments in the advancements of technology over their lifetime gives them their name, but they also have taken on extreme amounts of student loan debt as well as combatted many societal challenges and world events. For example, Millennials not only witness the birth of the computer, internet, and cellphone, they also lived through the Y2K scare, 9/11, and the War in Iraq. Millennials tend to choose location over square footage flocking to the larger more culture-packed cities around the country and have been the biggest purchasers of the tiny-housing and micro-apartment trends. Millennials typically collect experiences over possessions sacrificing space, ownership of property, and physical wealth in order to travel and receive a higher education. Smaller spaces mean downsizing personal effects, meaning they need smaller storage unit rentals or more often than not, leave a lot of belongings with parents, Generation X through younger Boomers, directly affecting their storage needs.
The final defined generation today typically still lives at home with their parents, Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2015, ages 5 to 25, there are roughly 74 million living in the U.S. Raised entirely in the digital age, most not remembering a time before internet or cell phones, Generation Z leads the generational demographics in their ability to navigate technology and collects more digital property versus physical property than any other age group. The latter part of this spectrum, our high school to college-aged demographic is just starting to learn the ins and outs of personal finance. Those at the end of the scale, college students and those just graduating college, often find themselves in the position of lots of moving around in a short span of time. Whether it be moving from one dorm to another across campus every year, or switching apartments or fraternities, there is often a gap once school lets out to when it begins the next semester. Oftentimes, it is much more convenient and cheaper to find temporary storage near campus than to pay to transport it back and forth. Though their storage needs may be more temporary or short term, convenience is key with this younger demographic. Colleges tend to be in larger cities anyway, so concentrating on building storage facilities in a college town would be beneficial because the area is heavily populated with both students and consumers of all ages.
Where we are in our lives and the events we live through generationally shape who we are; they determine what we buy, what we value, and what items we want to hold on to forever. Though seemingly different from demographic to demographic, there is one thing these generations have in common: they are all collectors at heart.
Here at Precision Global, we help you hold on to your memories and keep your collections safe in our storage facilities. For more information about Self-Storage and what it can do for you and your family, or if you are interested in receiving more information about the limitless opportunities in partnering with Precision Global, please click on the link ‘Request Real Estate Opportunities’ and browse through our ‘Current Projects’ tab at the top of the page.