As more and more high street stores close, what does it take for us to realise that our entire financial landscape is changing?
The man sits opposite me in one of Edinburgh’s posh hotels. He is CDO of one of Scotland’s. main finance tech companies, and says; “You know, Richard – young people – our Millenials – won’t go to brokers any more, as you and I might have done. Their app on their phone will do their search and recommending for them – and it will be more intuitive and better informed, than any independent adviser that you care to meet”
I am in Geneva and my colleague leans across; he is CEO of one of Switzerland’s main Consulting houses – and almost conspiratorially he says; “Our Generation Z have no material aspirations or rather, do not see value in actually acquiring the objects of desire that has driven consumer manufacturing for so long. Aspirational values will be what their peers think of what they do or how they do it – rather than the expensive object that their parents could have chosen.”
These two statements are either damaging – or opportunistic. It depends on how you want to see them. One of the reasons for the decline in our retail environment, is that said retailers have not woken up to the fact that their market has changed. People are still spending money. They just don’t spend it on the same things as before, or rather, they do – but in a different way.
But it goes deeper than that. It is a change in how our future generations see life, where you do not have to own a car to be able to “enjoy” driving a car; where simply being able to “be” at a cool place, wherever that might be – is more important than your ability to fly biz class or your upgraded loyalty points.
Current forecasts are that we will all be eating out more, but what that means is that we will order in our food, and eat at home rather than actually “go” to a restaurant. dinner will be prepared on some industrial estate and wizzed to us by a guy on a bike. I can’t think of anything more horrifying, but here I am at family dinner when my son wants to eat Italian and my daughter wants to have vegan and I want Chinese.
Maybe it is time to stop crying over the demise of the High Street – and start to welcome the changes that can revolutionise our high street experience. Because the one thing that is staying the same, is social contact. People are once again appreciating that actually getting together, is far better than purely relying on our social media giants for proper communication. So maybe life is now a compromise of all things hybrid. Because, after all – even if we eat different food – we have to eat it somewhere, and we will get our mortgage and buy our shares etc, from the nice lady hologram on our mobile phone as we eat.