Brian Hunt: Millennials' Hierarchy of Needs for Student Housing

For the college-aged generation, connectivity has to be a built-in feature, even in furniture. Without it, Millennials can easily lose their way.

wifiIf you ever studied high school or college psychology you know about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Basic food, water and general human needs for survival tend to come before emotional needs. Yet with this infographic, you'll see Wi-Fi has replaced 'basic' needs. And many times this isn't just a joke. Especially during test, report or study time, the importance of Wi-Fi can supersede hunger.

Wi-Fi
Nearly 100 percent of Millennials — defined as those born between 1977 and 2000 — are online, according to a Harris survey. Unlike any generation before them, most have grown up with computers and digital devices serving as their major tool for communication. Of 18 to 24 year-olds, 43 percent say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone (eMarketer 2010). Thus, any living setting will be more attractive to Generation Y if they have easy and fast access to anything digital. With student apartment furniture, this means updated ports and outlets built into desks and beds, for starters. At FOB our built-in ports and outlets are one of the most appealing features of late — to both the students and those sourcing student housing furniture.

Shelter & Comfort
Shelter is obviously important to everyone. Today's student apartment living is really amped up even over five years ago. Many more amenities are now considered necessities. With furnishings, this means ensuring the furniture is not only of good quality and functional but especially has good design. The functional design must give students a useful space for their digital devices, with ease of access to charging them (which again stresses the importance of the built-in ports/outlets).

Safety
Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, security is a much greater emphasis than before. Personal safety is a given, but digital devices come into play here as well since many computers, phones, iPads, etc., are not cheap and need to be protected — with desks that lock.

Belonging/Love
We all want a place where we feel that we belong and can love or be loved. The environment is central to this need. With FOB's furniture, many designs are modern or European-influenced, with clean lines as well as elements that can be easily replaced if needed.

Achievement/Respect
A well-kept and well-designed environment helps give a sense of achievement and aids in building confidence as well as gaining the respect of others. The communities where we have furniture make sure that the students' environments stay on trend and the furniture is maintained. This helps make their temporary home feel not so temporary and helps them take pride in their home away from home.

Self Actualization
This generation has a high social conscious. Much of FOB's furniture is green, and all of it is sustainable where certain elements can be replaced if there's a scratch or dent — without discarding the entire piece of furniture.

But I stress again, if there's no Wi-Fi, the student will bail on the apartment and the furniture until they know it's safe to return to their home that's online and humming.


Brian Hunt is CEO of FOB, an international and student housing apartment furniture company, headquartered in Fort Mill, S.C.

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