As the Great Depression shaped the attitudes of a generation from 1929 until the early years of World War II, so have the financial crisis and its aftermath affected the outlook of young consumers like Anselmo, said Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy and political science at the Edward J Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.
“This is a generation that is scared of commitment, wants to be light on their feet and needs to adjust to whatever happens,” said Zukin, who’s researched the effects of the recession on recent college graduates. “What once was seen as a solid investment, like a house or a car, is now seen as a ball and chain with a lot of risk to it.”
One key difference is that technology now allows companies to provide younger consumers access to what they want, when they want it and at a reduced cost, said Paco Underhill, founder of New York-based consumer-behavior research and consulting firm Envirosell. “Renting is something that is in play that wasn’t in play during the Great Depression,” he said. “To a modern generation, ownership isn’t about having it forever, it is about having it when you need to have it,” said Underhill, who has studied shopper behavior…