They're turning their backs on beer and TV - but what are millennials doing for kicks?
As Great British Bake Off reveals its youngest ever line-up, Tanya Sweeney looks at the habits millennials are giving up - and the hobbies they're taking up instead
Time once was that baking was seen as the twee preserve of ladies of a certain vintage, and youngsters' supposed incompetency in the kitchen was a longstanding joke.
But try telling that to the newest wave of Gen-Zers and millennials, who seemingly love nothing more than rustling up a roulade, or de-stressing with a dessert. A 2019 study from the American Bakers' Association highlights that the under-35s are helping to grow the baked good sector in the US, with 75pc of survey respondents indicating that they're not dissuaded from eating baked products because of a concern about carbohydrates or weight.
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Baking's hot moment among the under-35s is pretty much official as the 10th series of The Great British Bake Off returns tonight (Channel 4, 8pm). Of the new season's line-up, announced last week, around half are in their twenties, and the average age of the group is now 31. A fashion designer, a 20-year-old student and a fitness instructor will get out the Magimix and attempt to dazzle Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood with their sponges, sourdoughs and showstoppers.
It does prompt the question: what happened to the usual youthful pursuits of pubbing, clubbing and shopping? The hobbies of the under-35s have evidently shifted of late, but what pursuits have been swapped out?
Look. Being a 20- or 30-something in the world isn't easy, and people are always on the lookout for something that can alleviate anxiety. Mindfulness has had its moment in the sun, but now, you're more likely to find a recipe for salted caramel whoopee pies spread through a social circle like wildfire. Baking is a version of mindfulness - your attention is anchored to the present moment, you're not thinking about the past or the future, and there's the added bonus of a sweet treat at the end.
OUT: FAST FASHION
Keeping up with the trends of every passing season is fine and all, but the under-35s are becoming increasingly concerned with fast fashion's carbon footprint. And what do you get if you mix up sustainable clothing with a clever side hustle? Depop, a sort of sexier and cooler alternative to eBay. Founded in 2011, Depop now boasts 10 million users, a great many of them women aged between 13 and 24, and the site takes more than $400 million (€350 million) in sales, a figure that has doubled year on year. Ireland was reportedly among the fastest-growing markets in 2018, and now boasts around 300,000 accounts. A study in the US by Thredup suggested there was a 25pc rise in the number of women prepared to buy second-hand in 2017 compared with the year before. 'Pre-loved' designer labels are back in a big way too.
OUT: COLOURING BOOKS
In 2015, 'mindful' colouring books for adults was the publishing trend that no one saw coming. The trend rose and fell, but still, we developed a taste for something creative and crafty that could help with managing anxiety. Simply, decoupage involves cutting out pictures, gluing them to an object and then coating the end result with glossy layers of varnish. Pinterest is positively fizzing with snaps of vintage furniture upcycled with floral napkins and eye-catching wrapping paper.
Radio has held its own in Ireland, but audiobooks research released last year by Nielsen UK Books & Consumers showed that audiobook purchases had almost doubled since 2012, accounting for 5pc of consumer book spending in the UK (statistics are similar in Ireland to UK ones). The Nielsen survey also revealed that certain demographics were increasingly drawn to audio, including men aged between 25 and 44, and those living in urban regions. Among the most popular genres identified were sci-fi, fantasy, self-help, history and science.
IN: SPIRITS (OR SOBRIETY)
The number of alcohol drinkers in the world has dropped by 5pc since 2000, sparking something of a sobriety revolution. Yet of the millennials that are drinking, they are showing a greater penchant for spirits compared to beer, according to a US survey. Almost a third of millennials say they're cutting back on alcohol, up from the 21pc who said they were drinking less alcohol in 2018, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Also, 27pc of them said they were drinking less beer, due to concerns about beer's calorie and carb count, while 19pc explained the change by saying they preferred other types of alcohol. Just 5pc said beer is no longer trendy.
Trend predictors Future Laboratory have seen a massive spike in interest in cocktail culture. There has been research into the idea that younger people are very much interested in going to bars and not drinking; rather, they go as a destination, not to get drunk, and they drink spirits, but in a much lower volume.
IN: APP-BASED TRAINING
According to a Women's Marketing report, 81pc of millennials say they exercise regularly, but 72pc believe that gym memberships are too expensive. On the other hand, 24pc of 18-29-year-olds noted that they had health apps on their phones they use for performance-based games, fitness tracking and locating a more social workout like group exercise.
Everyone under 35 has a favourite podcast, whether it's a true crime stalwart like West Cork, or a fireside culture chat like The High Low. A recent Reuters report showed that podcasts are more popular in Ireland than most other EU states, with roughly two-in-five news consumers in Ireland reporting that they listened to a podcast within the past month.
Blame Jonah Hill's brilliant indie flick Mid-90s, but skateboarder cool is back on fashion's radar, and youngsters are picking up the wheels to match. Womenswear skate labels like Aris and X Girl are reportedly the latest 'It' names, and fashion houses Stella McCartney, House of Holland and Chloe are referencing skate culture this year. Trend predictors have noted that electric skateboards are rising in popularity Stateside too.
Millennials have become a green-fingered bunch. And since most landlords don't allow animals, they're beginning to swap 'pet parenting' for 'plant parenting'. According to the US's 2016 National Gardening Report, five million people in the 18-34 age bracket took up gardening. The report also mentions that 37pc of millennials are growing plants and herbs indoors, compared to 28pc of their older counterparts.