By Simon Bond

Recently I have been studying the success of the Japanese consumer brand Muji. The business continues to expand and the drivers of their growth are important pointers to the future, of not just retailing and consumer spending in general, but also investment in the new millennial era.

It is my view that the Millennials are simply not buying what the Boomers are selling and that the future is “massive minimalism through perpetual growth”. This has enormous implications for your future investment strategy. 

Muji sees four principles as key to their branding, product selection and sales success:

1. An antithesis to the consumption society.

2. We leave room for the individuality of the customers.

3. No name, anonymous.

4. We try to take the viewpoint of the purchasers, consumers.

The Millennials are minimalists and it is abundantly clear that the general drift is that we, as a society, are moving away from owning things to accessing things. Access means that we can get the thing, or the experience, or the service, any time we want from anywhere in the world. If you can kind of reach for something and get it, then that’s in many ways better than owning it and having to find it, take care of it, maintain it and upgrade it. The chart below illustrates clearly the shift from the consumption of goods into more services.

About Millennial Minimalism. I did a Google trend search using the criteria “minimalist”. As you can see from the Google trend snapshot, the frequency of the search interest in the word has skyrocketed over the past few years. See chart below;

How might your life be better with less? Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives — clearing the clutter from life’s path so we can make room for the most important things. 

The movie Minimalism is a documentary that touts itself as being "about the important things" and examines the many flavours of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life. From minimalist architects, designers, and musicians, to businessmen, authors, and minimalist families, this film explores various recipes for how to live a more meaningful, deliberate life. Not a perfect life, not an easy life—a simple one.

Access over ownership. If you don’t think this is a trend that is gaining momentum think again, the advance screenings of the documentary were sold out all across the United States and websites are popping up everywhere and books are increasingly being published talking about this new way of life.

Another signal that change is upon us and that we need to position our investments for the future of the new world order. Exports from China are continually falling as the Chinese Administration works hard to shift their citizens up the food chain.