By Connie Sue Centrella
Demographics, or the study of human populations, are an important tool that helps businesses understand the impact different generations have on the economy—how sales and spending have been affected in the past and what is in store for the future of retail in this industry. Shifts in demographics and the characteristics of those populations have a profound effect on how a business should market itself to the consumer. That being said, there is a new group in town the pool and hot tub industry must now market its products to as a shift is taking place, moving from the focus on baby boomers to generation Xers and millennials.
For years, the industry has focused on the postwar baby boomer generation (ages 48 to 68) who have had the income and desire to invest in nesting, raising families, and improving their home, which included the addition of pools and hot tubs. As many of the older baby boomers are now considering retirement, their attention is turning to simplifying their lives, and downsizing into smaller homes.
The generation X factor
Generation X, the children of baby boomers, born after 1964, possess a different mindset when it comes to purchasing homes and amenities. David Foot, an economist and demographer at the University of Toronto, refers to generation X as the baby busters. According to Foot, the population base is undergoing a major transformation, a swing from a predominately young to a prominently middle-aged society. Because of this, retailers must brand their products with more quality and service, while placing less emphasis on price.
Why is this important to the swimming pool and hot tub industry? For a business to effectively plan its marketing techniques for the future, it is important it understands what drives this generation as it is much different from those prior. Generation Xers are attracted to affordable, quality products; they are also focused on the environment, and thus, are influenced by sustainable products. They are strong believers in treating the earth with respect and are interested in recycling, hybrid cars, and saving energy. Therefore, when marketing to this demographic, industry professionals should emphasize the energy efficiencies of the products they are selling.
Building a rapport is important, too as it will take them longer to make a decision because trusting where they do business is a priority. They are not the flexible generation—so selling to this group requires the ability to not only prove product quality, but also the superiority of the business and what it stands for. Generation Xers listen closely to their peers rather than take advice from older generations such as baby boomers. Therefore, referrals and references are important to share, including online referrals, which are extremely important in this age of social media. This also reveals the value they place on other people’s opinions more so than what the mass media has to say.
This generation is also turned off by sales people who double-talk and are manipulative. Forget the hard sell as it is interpreted as harsh, rude, and obnoxious, which comes across as a poor selling technique.
The good news is, new brands and innovative technology are appealing to this generation as they have an open mind and are willing to try something different; therefore, it is important to emphasize affordability, payback on investing in energy efficient products, and quality.