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In business, one thing is certain: What worked 15 years ago won't work today, and what works today will at some point in the future fall flat. Every 20 years or so a new generation is born, bound together by common wants, needs, motives, and events. As each generation ages, we all recognize that its members become ripe for consuming a changing array of products and services. But what most organizations fail to consider is that today's demand cannot be projected from yesterday's successes, because the one ...
In business, one thing is certain: What worked 15 years ago won't work today, and what works today will at some point in the future fall flat. Every 20 years or so a new generation is born, bound together by common wants, needs, motives, and events. As each generation ages, we all recognize that its members become ripe for consuming a changing array of products and services. But what most organizations fail to consider is that today's demand cannot be projected from yesterday's successes, because the one unchangeable and most dominant determinant of consumer demand is the size of the generation that is ripe for a given product or service.
This groundbreaking book lets you in on the best ways to position your business to roll with changing populations of ripe consumers-including how to succeed despite the looming challenges posed by the relatively small Generation X, and leverage the explosive opportunities afforded by massive young Generation Y.
With its simple yet profound insights (along with eye-opening examples of companies who succeeded or failed spectacularly in leveraging or weathering the demographic storm), The Age Curve will forever change the way you look at your business, and how you perceive the generational impact on the entire commercial (and political!) landscape. It will help you forecast far into the future with unprecedented clarity and accuracy and propel your business to entirely predictable long-term success.
There are sick empty feelings in your stomach, and then there are really big sick empty feelings. I had the latter. Our signature account of eight years, American Honda Motorcycle, had shipped the year’s allotment of new 1986 bikes to the dealers two months earlier and a unique thing happened: nothing.
Our history with Honda had been nothing but successful up to this point. The formula was simple: Honda sent the bikes from Japan to a New Jersey warehouse, where they were distributed to the Northeast regional dealers, who prepped them and displayed them on showroom floors. As soon as they were displayed at the dealerships, the marketing and advertising kicked in and the customers bought them—all of them. Life was good.
But this was 1986 and the bikes did not sell. It wasn’t that traffic was slow. There was no traffic. The folks at Honda asked, “Did you run the ads?”
This is when the really big sick empty feeling kicked in. The bad news was that sales volume was dropping like a stone. The really bad news was that sales would continue to drop for the next six years until the decline amounted to an 80 percent free fall. Gulp. By 1992 most of the dealerships were ready to close, and we lost the account. No surprise there. The only consolation was that exactly the same thing happened to Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Someone had turned off the faucet and we didn’t know who or why.
In mid-October 1996 I was reading the Hartford Courant’s editorial section. The Hartford Courant is America’s oldest newspaper in continuous publication. It devoted a full page to a sweeping indictment of Generation X and its noninvolvement in the political process. Bill Clinton was about to trounce Bob Dole. It seemed that the Xers (born between 1965 and 1984) did not vote or donate its resources at the same level the Boomers did (born between 1945 and 1964) when they first got involved in politics.
The implied laziness part bothered me. We had thirty Xers working at our agency at the time, and none were lazy. I asked our research department to review the voting habits of Generation X. Our research department checked. All the factors seemed equal on a per capita basis. Xers did vote. They did contribute to their political parties and they did participate in government. There were just fewer of them. In other words, the young Generation X voters actually cast fewer votes than the young Boomers when they were the same age not because they were lazy but because they were simply a smaller group.
Was this simple difference in the size of the Boomer generation and Generation X the answer to the motorcycle mystery? I reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data to find out, and indeed there were a lot fewer of them—11 percent fewer. There were 78 million Boomers and only 69 million Xers.
That moment of recognition changed my thinking from that point forward. Large and small generations, alternately moving and aging through the marketplace, determine many a company’s success or failure. That moment changed the way I counsel my client companies. It spawned the shape of my public presentations. It gave birth to this book.
The core idea of this book is quite simple: Smaller generations buy less stuff; larger generations buy more stuff. When a large generation, such as the Boomers, leaves the market and is replaced by a smaller generation, such as Gen Xers, sales are going to drop. Please excuse the fact that I repeat this premise throughout my book, but I have found that people (executives, entrepreneurs, salespeople, marketers, advertisers, etc.) just don’t accept this clear-cut concept until you beat them over the head with it. My intention is to show how the simple idea of generational size applies to an ever-widening variety of areas and convince readers to recognize it, believe it, and, most important, put it to use.
—Kenneth W. Gronbach
Posted April 4, 2011
I had the opportunity to both read the book and attend a confernce where the author presented the highlights. The book takes a snore subject like deomgraphics (study of people simply in terms of quantity) and makes it engaging in our business decision processes. It is well written, easy to read and basically puts a tool in your toolbelt you did not know you were missing. Trust me, you need to spend 2 hours and read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2010
The author is able to explain current and past successes and failed business very well with the demographic changes. However, the future does not depend only on demography, but also the trend of the people.
An example is senior and assisted-living housing that targets seniors with 75 year plus old. Considering the large number of boomers approaching this age, the future of the senior housing market looks promising, but the boomers do not want to consider that they are old. That is, demography is positive, but the trend is negative. The book does not offer any clue, regarding which is more important. He seems to suggest negative factor will prevail.
Posted December 1, 2010
No text was provided for this review.
Posted January 1, 2009
No text was provided for this review.