‘Generation X’ Termed Key Market Force Over Next 20 Years

by WOHe

‘Generation X’ Termed Key Market Force Over Next 20
Years

Even as its vanguard slips into retirement, the “Baby Boom
Generation” born between 1946 and 1964 remains the nation’s most
potent demographic force, with an impact that will continue rolling
through the U.S. economy for another quarter-century.

However, the eldest children of the 76 million baby boomers
those born from 1965 through 1975 and widely known as “Generation
X” are also a rapidly emerging demographic power to be reckoned
with.

That’s the view of Chris Marshall, president of Hansgrohe USA,
the Alpharetta, GA-based manufacturer of decorative faucets,
showerheads and related products for the bath and kitchen under
three separate brand names: Hansgrohe Interaktiv, Pharo integrated
shower solutions and Axor bath collections.

Marshall addressed the topic of Generation X and its expected
impact on the housing industry at the recent International Builders
Show in Las Vegas.

Now in their mid- to late-20s and early 30s, Generation Xers are
currently in the market for their first homes, or an initial
move-up, Marshall observed. Their tastes vary markedly from those
of their parents, noting that remodelers and kitchen/bath
specialists looking to capitalize on this increasingly important
group “will need to adjust their offerings accordingly.”

“The typical Gen Xer has an image of what family life should be,
and that includes a beautiful, comfortable, well-appointed home,”
Marshall said. “Even though they must often work within tighter
budgets than their parents, they still want all the amenities right
now.”

Whether they are singles, couples or the heads of young
families, the 47 million members of Generation X are buying new and
existing homes at a record pace, thanks in no small part to
record-low interest rates, according to Marshall. This trend to
home ownership is not only likely to continue, but also to expand
over the next decade or more, he added.

Total households headed by adults aged 25 to 34 rose to
approximately 6.6 million in 2000, according to Census Bureau
figures. By 2010, the number of households for this same
demographic will have more than doubled. By 2020, when members of
this group will be entering their prime earning years of 45 to 54,
the number of households will have increased to a projected 17.1
million. “These largely college-educated, Internet-savvy buyers
represent a substantial opportunity for home builders [and
remodelers] around the country,” Marshall said. “Winning the
allegiance of these Gen Xers while they’re young will enable a
marketer to reap the rewards of brand loyalty as they accrue buying
power over the next two decades.”

Of course, the same can be said for the next demographic cohort,
the Echo Boomers, born between 1976 and 1994, Marshall
suggests.

“The Gen Xers, along with the Echo Boomers, are going to drive
home building as well as the sales of all of those products that go
into a new home for the next 20 years,” Marshall noted. “Anyone who
fails to focus on these groups will miss out on two of the leading
drivers of business development and growth in the home building
industry.”

Members of Generation X typically must operate on a budget,
Marshall noted, which means they like their homes to be as
functional as they are informal. They tend not to like, for
example, large bathrooms with lots of empty space in between the
fixtures. Instead, they prefer a more efficient approach that makes
practical use of every inch.

“Big kitchens are a plus with this group,” said Marshall, “with
the additional space devoted to a breakfast nook or other informal
eating area as opposed to a separate, formal dining room.”

As for plumbing products, better-than-average quality, minimal
maintenance and high functionality are the priorities, Marshall
commented, adding that energy and water conservation, as well as
other “green” values, are also plus.

“Pull-out faucets have become a major asset in the modern
kitchen,” Marshall said. “It’s good-looking, yet highly functional
and can be purchased at a relatively low cost.”

Members of Generation X are split almost evenly on their
preferences for traditional versus contemporary stylings in bath
and kitchen products. But the faucet designs that are popular with
many Generation X homeowners are actually more transitional,
Marshall says.

“Gen Xers tend to prefer styles that feature sleeker lines and
more rounded and smoother contours,” Marshall said. “These younger
buyers have little interest in heavily decorative designs with a
lot of fussy ornamentation.”

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