Issue - July/August 2022

IAM-YP FOCUS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS IS HERE

Everyone Is Passionate About their Belongings, and Moving Companies Should Be, Too

Alberto Silva, Executive Director, AIM Brazil

Some claim our youngest generations, namely Millennials and Gen Z, care less about ‘stuff’ than those who came before them. While it may be true that Boomers and Gen X accumulated more belongings due to historical circumstances—industrialization post World War II, more accessible merchandise thanks to cheaper labor and raw materials, and the American way of life—based on hefty consumption that easily spread across the globe on the wings on capitalism, we are not convinced that all young folks are lovers of minimalism and adept at the tricky art of ‘letting go.’


Moving is a hassle for most. It's what keeps the lights on in our offices but, truth be told, most of our customers would rather snap their fingers and have the whole process miraculously carry itself out if only magic were real. It is not; and we are thankful for that. Even with all the perceived inconvenience, we are observing that our clients continue to show willingness to move their goods across cities, states, and countries. And—believe it or not—this client base is increasingly young.


This data suggests, as we had alluded, that material things continue to matter to people of all ages, and our industry finds itself in a unique position to shed a light on why that is and why folks—especially young individuals—do care about their stuff. Below, we talk about why we think this way. (Un)fortunately, this is no scientific essay; our commentary is solely supported by empirically witnessing this dynamic from a privileged standpoint.


First and foremost, there is value in stuff. Beyond the emotional value that may be derived from looking at grandma’s dining room set or the memories that are evoked when Uncle Joe’s Swiss floor clock chimes. Furniture, linen, clothes, or anything one can own costs money and, on average, it costs more than it did in the past—inflation is real and it’s a global trend. Aggravated by unexpected wars and pandemics, access to goods has become more uncertain for this generation. This is true even for cheaper goods or after depreciation. Something may be cheap; but it’s expensive to replace. As the pandemic has evinced, at times, replacing an item is not even an option. Our supply chains have experienced unprecedented disruption and the path to normalization is not clear.


If on the one hand, youngsters may not be as altruistic as we should, we are certainly more aware of environmental issues and the importance of recycling and using our products as long as possible. We are slower to dispose of what we own. Then, when we are faced with a need to make a decision to acquire something, we will be given an option to buy something sturdier and longer-lasting. Think about it: plastic cups and straws are being replaced by nice metal mugs and aluminum straws. The solar panels that are saving people hundreds of dollars in electricity are designed to travel with their owners if they choose to move to a different house. There is growing mindfulness about where clothes come from, who is sewing them together, how much they make, how old they are, under what conditions they work and whether that is financing wars or dictatorships. We continue to care about stuff and we do it more holistically now.


Our International Manager at AIM Brazil, Karen Santana, shares her experience. She has been in this industry for five years and, empowered by her Gen Z badge, she, too, thinks her generation is very much attached to their stuff: “When I joined this industry, I didn't realize how great of a business it was. Then, I started to notice that younger clients were only different from older ones in minor details. Young clients ask for digital documents, and they want to have their goods assessed virtually if possible. However, when push comes to shove, they’re just as concerned about their possessions as older clients. My job is to make sure everyone can rest assured we will deliver on our promise.”


From a selfish standpoint, it’s reassuring to see this trend. We realize, however, that we will need to continue to strive for innovation, sustainability and more agile processes to keep our new clients happy. We are up for this challenge and hope our entire industry will be, too.