Research Reveals New Insights about Today’s Student Renters

The National Apartment Association Student Housing Conference and Exposition featured a keyote by Michael Wood, senior vice president of Tru Insight.

Photo by Philip Shea

On February 25-27, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosted its annual Student Housing Conference and Exposition at the Aria—a 2009-built, LEED Gold-certified casino-hotel resort in Las Vegas. Attendees from across the country and multifamily industry attended presentations by experts in the booming student housing sector, who offered invaluable information on the latest trends among Millennials and the future of development and operations in this niche of the market.

The conference was kicked off with an energetic opening keynote by Michael Wood, senior vice president of Tru Insight—a research firm specializing in teens and young adults. In highlighting the unique nature of today’s student renters, Wood pointed out some key contrasts between teens and 20-somethings in 2013 versus the same demographic just five years ago.

For one, Tru’s latest survey revealed that today’s young people tend to prefer a “secure life that’s not exciting” over an “exciting life that’s not secure.” This, of course, flies in the face of conventional wisdom that sees teens and young adults as often seeking adventure and not settling for mediocrity.

Yet Wood notes that the lagging economy has already had an immense impact in shaping the long-term assumptions and perspectives of the current generation. “Coming off of this recession, they are looking for stability and security,” Wood said. “The stakes are just too high in terms of risky behavior.”

Other findings from Tru’s surveys reveal that young people today are more likely to opt for a fun job over a well-paying one and emphasize personal relationships over careerism.

Wood also noted the exponential importance of Internet and social media among Millennials, and how widespread integration across key industries has led to a baseline expectation amongst this demographic. As such, simply providing social media platforms is no longer enough to maintain an edge; operators have to have an optimized and uniform approach that flows well with the property’s overall management.

Photo by Philip Shea

“Regardless of how you’re trying to connect with young people, it’s important that you focus on maximizing the experience that they have with you,” Wood said. “It’s also important that you have one clear strategy… that everyone in your company clearly understands, and it shouldn’t be more than two pages.”