Turns out I’ve killed a few things in my life — and I was oblivious to it.

Like the ubiquitous hit-and-run episode on some teen drama about the perils of drunk driving, I committed manslaughter and took off without a second look at the wreckage behind me.

And I’m not the only one … there are millions more. Apparently, my entire generation is guilty of this crime, all 90 or so million of us between the ages of about 18 and 35.

See, we’re the largest generation alive right now, having overtaken the baby-boomer generation in early 2016. And, as always, with great power comes great responsibility. As more of us climb into our prime working and spending years, our tastes are turning into mega trends.

But while we were breathing life into businesses like housing, online retail, mobile payments and the avocado industry (we enjoy our avocado toast), we were also removing our monetary attentions from industries that used to boast steady consumer engagement, leaving them to wither under the cold weight of our disinterest.

That’s how my generation became, essentially, hit men — and this is where investors need to take note.

To start, we’re killing the movie industry. The number of ticket buyers ages 18 to 24 fell by more than one-third from 8.7 million in 2012 to 5.7 million in 2015 — which has forced Hollywood to focus on the “millennial problem” and try attracting youngsters by releasing more superhero flicks, for example.

We’ve also extinguished casual dining. Chain restaurants such as TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s are struggling to attract customers and make sales, leading to dozens of restaurant closures.

And bar soap? We’ve killed that too. Bar soap sales fell 2.2% from 2014 to 2015 — largely because millennials believe that it’s inconvenient and covered in germs. Just 33% of millennial women are willing to use bar soap for their faces.

Oh, and we’re also offing the paper napkin, which has been a staple in American households since the 1950s. Napkin sales were down 0.7% at $716.2 million last year — in large part because millennials find paper towels more casual and a better value.

The list goes on: the focus group, the vacation, mass-market beers, golf, running, marriage. We must be exhausted with all that homicide.

However, when I look at that kill list (mainly touted in the mainstream media), I’m not focused on the end of these industries.

I’m focused on the beginning of others … because that’s where the big profits lie for investors who are paying attention.

For example, we may not like bar soap, but we’re gung ho on liquid body wash. Valued around $2.7 billion in 2015, liquid soap accounts for about 50% of category sales and continues to see growth. Meanwhile, bar soap accounts for 30% of product sales and is on the decline.

As for our hatred of the formal paper napkin … well, we love paper towels. Last year, paper towel sales were up 1.3% at $5.12 billion, while paper napkin sales dwindled. Now about 85% of millennials use a paper towel at the dinner table.

And while we may dislike casual dining, we’re the reason quick-serve restaurants like Chipotle and Panera became so popular. The fast-casual industry grew by a jaw-dropping 550% from 1999 to 2014. And by 2020, that market should reach $66.9 billion in the U.S. — mainly because millennials prefer quick, easy and less expensive options for their food.

So maybe the mainstream media should back off millennials. Stop lamenting over the natural decline of certain industries and take a closer look at the opportunities that are being created instead.

That’s what trend experts such as Paul do — they chart explosive growth for the companies tapped into my generation’s consumer habits. They know that trends don’t simply die — they just alter, driven down another path like a diverted stream.

If you’re interested in benefiting from millennial trends too, I suggest learning more about investment techniques that follow consumer habits, like the ones Paul uses. You can click here to learn more.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go back to killing industries in my spare time. Wish me luck.

Catch you next week.


Jessica Cohn-Kleinberg
Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing