Many different issues and elements influence which trends rise and fall and which products meet with success or failure among today’s consumers. Environment, income and individual personality all play a major role in influencing kitchen and bath design, as does another element – what generation the client belongs to (see related Editorial).
Connecting on a personal level with a client is something all kitchen and bath designers strive for. It makes a job go more smoothly, and usually produces a more satisfying end result. Additional work and referrals are often based on likeability and the ease in which a designer and client work together.
“For you to become likeable, you need to understand how customers view their world,” stresses Cam Marston, a generational marketing expert, motivational speaker and founder of Generational Insight, in Mobile, AL.
“Generational perspective has a lot to do with how people view their world.”
Janel Davenport, president, Janel Davenport Kitchen & Bath Design, in Evergreen, CO, notes that she approaches customers of different generations in different ways. “Each generation has a different value system,” she notes.
“There are different priorities from one generation to the next.”
Marston identifies the four main generations with purchasing power in today’s marketplace: The Matures are 66 and older, the Baby Boomers range in age from 47 to 65, Generation Xers are 32 to 46 years old, and the Millennials, or Generation Y, are under 30.
When selling to members of the Mature group, Marston advises that you emphasize your expertise, and make things easy for them. “They believe in dedication and sacrifice, and that experience is the best teacher,” he comments.
Baby Boomers are a core group – 80 million strong. They are the biggest generation of consumers, and their success is visible. “They are workaholics and are defined by their work, and they love their trophies,” he reports. They are interested in high-end amenities such as state-of-the-art kitchens.
The two younger generations are less focused on the team mentality of the older groups and more in tune with the idea of the “unique individual,” Marston notes.
“GenXers are the first generation that was told that they were special and unique,” he stresses. He warns that they exhaustively research everything, and are very difficult to please. “They educate themselves and don’t trust others to teach them. However, once they make the decision to trust you, they are very loyal,” Marston adds.
The last of the group – the Millennials – are only now coming into their buying power (see Inside Today's Showroom). They are an optimistic group, according to Marston, though they are busy and stressed. “The future is very short term to them, and they have huge goals,” he notes. They also want instant gratification, he stresses.
Trends for All
While Marston notes that, the younger the consumer, the more things are focused on individuality, clients across the board are looking for “materials and designs that say something about them,” comments Rebekah Zaveloff, CKD, principal, KitchenLab in Chicago, IL and co-founder of Design in a Bag. “They want things that are unique and individual to their homes and lifestyles.”
While the common notion is that older clients would lean more toward traditional while the younger set would embrace more contemporary styling, Gail Bolling, co-owner, The Kitchen Company in North Haven, CT notes that this isn’t really the case. “I’m not really seeing a generational difference in that regard. I have older clients who want something very contemporary, such as a slab door, because it’s going to be easier to clean and they’ve already had a kitchen with a fussier door,” she explains.