Key Demographic Changes Seen Altering
Kitchen and bath retailers and manufacturers should ready
themselves for a long, slow demographic shift that will eventually
create new markets, alter the customer base for kitchens and baths,
and impact consumer buying patterns for the home.
That’s the word from demographers, who point to a number of key
population shifts which suggest that kitchen/bath professionals
will eventually have to change their perception of potential
clients, work harder for business, change their marketing message
and product mix and alter the way they conduct their
Among the key demographic trends promising to impact the kitchen
and bath market over the next decade are the following:
- America is becoming an increasingly multi-lingual nation.
According to a recent issue of American Demographics magazine,
almost one in five Americans now speak a language other than
English at home. In six metropolitan areas, including Miami and
Laredo, TX, residents who speak only English are now in the
This is not confined just to a few cities, however. Among
communities where at least 5,000 inhabitants speak a language other
than English at home, the Charlotte, NC area saw a 338% increase in
people speaking Spanish and a 182% increase in people speaking an
Asian language between 1990 and 2000. The Fayetteville, AR area
witnessed a 609% increase in Spanish speakers in the last decade.
And, during that time span, the Green Bay, WI area saw a 354%
increase in Spanish-speaking people and the Lincoln, NE area
witnessed a 172% increase in Asian language speakers.
The implication for kitchen/bath retailers should be clear,
demographers suggest: If your business is operating in English
only, perhaps you ought to rethink that for the future.
“You will miss out on this growing market unless you prepare now,”
one market analyst recently noted. “Pay attention to population
shifts in your area, and make an effort to have literature in those
languages. You may also wish to recruit employees who are fluent in
both English and the indigenous language.”
- U.S. household growth in the future will be dominated by
Significant shifts in the customer base for kitchen and bath
retailers are inevitable based on the latest statistics.
For example, demographic trends are expected to result in an
increase of 11.7 million U.S. households between 2000 and 2010,
with the total number of households rising from 105.5 million in
2000 to 117.2 million in 2010, according to figures compiled by the
Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. However,
unlike household growth in the past, the changes will be most
heavily impacted by growth in minority (black, Hispanic, Asian and
others) households, which made up only 25% of all U.S. households
in 2002 but are expected to grow by 64% through 2010. By
comparison, white households which made up 75% of all households in
2000 are expected to grow by only 36% over the same time
The implication for kitchen/bath retailers is clearly evident:
“You’ve got to recognize these changes and understand the
lifestyles, cultures, needs and purchasing preferences of these new
types of customers,” the market analyst said.
“The kitchen and bath is no longer a static, homogeneous market of
easily categorized, predictable, mainstream buyers. It’s
splintering into smaller, more diverse groups.
“Kitchen and bath professionals will need to understand what makes
these potential customers tick. They’ll need to recognize that
these people will not eventually just blend into the shrinking
mainstream, but will only become more determined to retain their
traditions and lifestyles, and will only become more and more
influential over time.”
- The average age of clients will be changing.
The youngest of the massive “Baby Boom” generation were born in
1964. These Baby Boomers will turn 40 and reach what is considered
prime remodeling age next year.
After that, however . . .
By the year 2012, there will be a 12% decline in the number of
people aged 35-44. That’s the age bracket, statistically speaking,
in which most consumers get a kitchen or bathroom remodeled. The
number of people in that age group increased 2% a year every year
during the past decade. However, starting in 2004, there will be
just over 1% fewer people in that age group each year for the next
That’s a big change, and it will mean tighter competition and a
shrinking market for traditional kitchen and bath remodeling to
that age group, demographers note.
It will mean kitchen and bath dealers, designers and remodelers can
expect quite a few other changes, as well, demographers
For one thing, the number of people in the 20-to-34 age range the
so-called “Echo Boomer”generation is going to grow some 10% over
the next decade. And, because 34% of women and 29% of men in this
age group have at least a bachelors degree which is, incidentally,
an all-time high these potential customers will have an average
income that is likely to be significantly higher than current
Although a large number of these consumers have traditionally
rented rather than purchased homes, that may not continue to be the
case in the future, demographers said.
They do note, however, that business in general and kitchen
and bath industry professionals specifically are going to have to
change the way they market in order to capture the attention and
dollars of this younger
“For one thing, kitchen and bath retailers will be competing for
the disposable dollar with items such as childcare, toys, and
infant wear,” one market analyst observes.
However, while younger consumers may be a tougher sell, there’s one
promising aspect of all this, demographers believe.
“The Baby Boomers, who triggered the industry’s greatest period of
growth and prosperity, will still be out there, now looking for
bathrooms and kitchens for people with limited mobility,” he notes.
This well may be the newest hot growth area, and savvy kitchen and
bath professionals will gear their marketing accordingly.