Millennials may be more accurately called the selfie generation. If you've been to a concert, sports game, or any other big event lately, it's hard not to notice groups of young people whipping out their smartphones and popping million-dollar smiles every chance they get and sharing the photos on Instagram and Snapchat.
Technology and culture have always influenced one another, but that relationship has never been stronger than among today's young adults, where photos of faraway places and exclusive events posted on social media inspire FOMO, or "fear of missing out." That's one big reason why millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than things. What was once "Keeping up with the Joneses," or buying nicer stuff to one-up your neighbors, is now "Pics or it didn't happen," or posting photos of your latest adventure on social meida to impress your peers.
According to a Harris Poll, 72% of millennials prefer spending their hard-earned cash on experiences instead of material possessions. With e-commerce increasingly commoditizing the shopping experience, that shift is only likely to tilt further away from products and toward activities. On that note, here are three experience-based companies that are set to benefit as millennials' discretionary income grows.
1. Madison Square Garden
Dubbed the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden (NYSE:MSG) is more than just the place the New York Knicks and Rangers play. The company owns a number of other marquee properties, including the 17,600-seat Forum in Inglewood, CA and the 3,600-seat Chicago Theater in Chicago, as well as holding leases on Radio City Music Hall and New York's Beacon Theater.
The company has also been expanding through acquisitions as well. It took a majority stake in TAO Group, which manages restaurants, hospitality, and nightlife venues in the U.S. and Australia, and plans to open a new venue called Sphere in Las Vegas by 2020. In its most recent quarter, entertainment revenue jumped 41% with the help of acquisitions and higher ticket prices, and the company is also making a play for the E-sports market, which is popular with millennials.
With several of the best-known venues around the country and a savvy acquisition strategy, MSG will continue to be able to draw top acts, riding the growth in live entertainment as concert revenues grew by a third between 2011 and 2015.
2. Live Nation
Madison Square Garden isn't the only company benefiting from the increasing popularity of concerts. Shares of Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) have ridden the wave of growing entertainment spending, with the stock up more than 300% over the last five years. The parent of TicketMaster is the biggest concert organizer in the world, putting on 30,000 shows in 40 countries last year. Revenue rose 24% to $10.3 billion, and attendance was up 21% to 86 million.
2018 is also shaping to be another strong year, with confirmed concerts up 7% so far and sponsorship and advertising revenue already at 70% of the company's projections.
Millennials may hate the exorbitant charges that ticket sellers like Live Nation demand, but that isn't keeping them away from their favorite festivals. With the macroeconomic climate strong and demand growing, Live Nation's profitability is expected to ramp up in the coming years.
This one might be a surprise, but the call of the road and #vanlife, the hashtag-driven marketing phenomenon that's encouraged some millennials to pursue their lives on the road, have helped RV-makers like Winnebago Industries (NYSE:WGO) boom, and shares have more than doubled over the last two years. Winnebago, along with rival Thor Industries (NYSE:THO), has adapted to the shift in the market that traditionally courted seniors by making smaller touring vehicles and trailers suitable for millennials with smaller budgets. Winnebago's acquisition of Grand Design in 2016, a maker of towable trailers, helped it unlock a potent revenue stream and a way to tap into the millennial market, as revenue nearly doubled in the quarters following the acquisition.
A strong macroeconomic environment has also helped fuel the rally in the highly cyclical industry, as have low gas prices and low unemployment rates, but the Instagrammable nature of life on the road in a cool vehicle should keep the younger generation around as loyal customers for these RV-makers.