man presses interfaceI had the pleasure of attending Tammy Erickson’s presentation on “The Influence of the Generations on the Kitchen & Bath Market” last weekend at KBIS. Ms. Erickson sure knows her stuff.

She broke down five generational groups and tied them back to a marketing story.  The groups and date ranges were:

  • The Traditionalists, 1928-1945
  • The Boomers, 1946-1960 (this break from the customary 1964 end date was intentional)
  • Gen X, 1961-1979
  • Gen Y, 1980-1994
  • Re-generation, 1995-present is an invention by the speaker

While a lot of detail went into this presentation (more than I can do it justice in this space), the gist was that the characteristics of the generation were shaped during childhood events. Erickson related this to the 11 year old of each time frame.

The breakdown:

The Traditionalists have high respect for rules and good manners. Authority was something that was admired and respected as well.  Consider that this generation grew up during war and the worst depression that the country has ever seen.

Boomers, on the other hand, knew competition as part of their core. There weren’t enough classrooms to house all, so you had better be good to succeed. They were rooted in the Kennedy assassination and were anti-authoritarian.

Gen X also knew a troubled economy, widespread layoffs, rising divorce rates (a jump from 20% to 50% in divorce rates in one decade) and the Challenger disaster.  They became a self-reliant group with a good deal of mistrust at their core.

Gen Y was anchored by terrorism, 9/11 and school violence (think Columbine). They grew up with technology, working mothers and a pro-child culture. They are also the first digitally-native generation, and can’t understand a time before this boom. They are very tolerant and trust authority.  Some of the statistics from this generation that amazed this attendee were a trust rate of 86% for their parents, 86% for teachers and 83% for the police. Quite the opposite of the previous two generations.

The aptly named Re-generation has the recession of 2008 and the financial crisis that followed in its history. They are very aware of resource shortages, their self-reliant parents and mobile technology. 50% of today’s 11 year-olds have a cell phone.

Take a moment to ponder all of that, and in a follow up, we’ll give Ms. Erickson’s thoughts on how to market to these diverse groups.