The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm

The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm

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by Kenneth W. Gronbach

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For years, marketers have held on to unwavering beliefs that have dictated how they market to their consumers. But the hard truth is that the changes we see in marketing and business are based on one undeniable factor—the size of the generations we are selling to. As each generation ages, what they buy and how much they buy will


For years, marketers have held on to unwavering beliefs that have dictated how they market to their consumers. But the hard truth is that the changes we see in marketing and business are based on one undeniable factor—the size of the generations we are selling to. As each generation ages, what they buy and how much they buy will change. Each product and service has a “best customer” that sustains a business. As these customers grow up, the smartest marketers will stay ahead of them—and their money. In The Age Curve, marketing guru Kenneth Gronbach shows executives and entrepreneurs how to anticipate this wave of predictable demand and ride it to success.

Gronbach reveals how our largest generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation Y, are redefining how we market and how businesses can anticipate their needs more effectively. Complete with entertaining examples of companies like Apple who have perfected their strategies for building a loyal customer base, as well as those who haven’t (Levi Strauss and Honda Motorcycle), this book will show readers:

• how to determine their best customers • how successful companies are earning the loyalty of Generation Y and cultivating allegiance to their products for years to come • why Generation X is a much less valuable market than any of us have been led to believe • and much more

Both shocking and compelling, The Age Curve will change the way companies look at their customers and how they market to them.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“To gain an overview of the coming trend, begin by reading the entertaining, inspiring new book, "The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm," by Kenneth Gronbach.” —Dr. Mildred Culp, “Workwise” syndicated columnist

“‘The Age Curve’ has one overwhelming reason to read and digest the book: it will make you re-think what you thought was obvious.” —Inland Empire Business Journal

“With a little guidance from ‘The Age Curve,’ readers will be better able to set their company on a path to future sales success.” —Houston Business Journal

“This lucid, well-written book is thought-provoking and accessible to a wide audience, and is especially valuable reading for business students and practitioners. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.” —Choice

"Gronbach will inspire you to think beyond his examples, not only about what has already worked, but what also needs to be done in future." -- QRCA Views

"The book takes on what could be a mind-numbing topic, but Gronbach does it with interesting style and intellectual edification....The Age Curve is as enlightening as it is sobering." --Springfield Business Journal

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Read an Excerpt


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

Meet the Author

Kenneth W. Gronbach (Haddam, CT) is a nationally recognized expert in the field of demography and generational marketing. He regularly provides counsel to Fortune 500 companies as well as large and small businesses across the U.S.

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The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RayWinn More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago