If your clientele is made up primarily of baby boomers, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that, as a group, these consumers tend to have money to spend on their homes, and many are looking to upgrade, having had their fill of “waiting ‘til things get better.” Baby boomers also tend to favor luxury: While “trophy” spaces may have fallen out of favor, these clients are still more than willing to invest in luxury features and amenities if they believe they will enhance their quality of life.
The bad news is that baby boomers tend to demand a greater attention to detail, and often have higher expectations for service than either older or younger buyers. That means you can expect to spend more time closing the sale, and if the job doesn’t go smoothly on all fronts, you probably won’t be seeing them again – or their friends. And these days, those “friends” can run to hundreds or even thousands of people, since the new definition of “friend” now includes social networking buddies from Facebook, Pinterest and the like – i.e. anyone they’ve ever met in their life – from grade school buddies to the brother of the kid they were on the swim team with in ninth grade, who is now a real estate broker and looking to grow his Facebook network.
Of course the best way to ensure a successful project when working with boomers is to understand their needs, wants and priorities.
So what do baby boomers want? In a recent survey of Kitchen & Bath Design News readers from all over the country, the most in-demand features among the baby boomer demographic included storage, ease of cleaning and products that provide a sense of luxury and comfort.
Design tastes tend to favor understated elegance, while products that promote entertaining or family gatherings score high with boomers. Boomers are also more willing than in the past to accept grab bars or products that promtoe aging in place - as long as style remains paramount.
Below is a small sampling of what kitchen and bath designers across the nation see as in high demand from baby boomer clients:
“Boomers are still into the high-end, professional-grade appliances, and are fitting out their outdoor kitchens similarly. Spa showers with multiple shower sprays and high-end finishes such as glass tile or semi-precious stone are prevalent, as are clean lines and less fussy architectural details than were seen in the past few decades. In addition to the kitchen and bath, favorite projects among boomers include outdoor kitchens, laundry rooms, closets and basements.”
“This age group prefers elegance, unique statement pieces, and they love the luxury, multi-spray shower systems. They have the confidence to really get what they want, and not just improve a room for resale value. I encourage them to go for their dreams, visions, and only be guided by the professionals for function.”
From New York:
“Baby boomers are looking to simplify their lives and get the feeling of luxury with each purchase. They have seen trends come and go and are less likely to chase them. They also are thinking further ahead for resale value, and how their choices will translate later. Products that are easy to use and clean are popular with boomers; they are not risk takers but do want elegance and classic design.”
“With the price of stone rivaling the plain color solid surface material, stone counters have been the choice for baths and kitchens among baby boomers. Storage is also important to these consumers, and many are looking for less traditional storage options like open shelving for dishes and glassware, pantries for food items, and tall linen cabinets to match a simple vanity.”
From Rhode Island:
“It's all about storage in the kitchen – they want to maximize their space. I am also seeing baby boomer homeowners looking to include their pets into their designs - carving out a space where they can eat, to store pet food, etc. For bathrooms, the drive is 'age-in-place.' Customers want to prepare for the future by installing low-threshold showers with seats, grab bars and handheld showerheads.”
“I'm getting far less pushback on the idea of grab bars than I was five years ago from this demographic. Maybe it's all the artificial knees and hips they're starting to accumulate? Related to that, perhaps, is a strong preference for more daylighting in bathrooms and kitchens, as boomer clients’ eyes age.”
“Boomers want refined woods such as cherry, and/or painted finishes on classically styled doors; they favor simple elegance, with attention paid to the details. Storage enhancements are critical to this consumer, as are products that make life easier. Additionally, baby boomers really seem to want designs that accommodate family gatherings.”
“The 50-60-year-old baby boomers’ design tastes are all over place, from traditional raised-panel cherry in dark stains to white paint and glazing. They also choose shaker for a simple clean look. They have high expectations for quality and service. The good news is that these consumers have the money and are willing to spend it. However, extra effort is required to satisfy this customer.”
“They baby boomers are looking for the same details as the younger buyers, but are more aware of ease of cleaning, and look for low-maintenance products. They prefer one-story living with large kitchens and master suites, and areas that can be dedicated to visitors and grandchildren.”
“Baby boomers seem to really like the transitional styles. They favor darker finishes, more in the bronze tone. They are also focused on keeping an eye on future resale value of the home. We see some boomers looking more at handicap fixtures. Overall, this demographic wants comfort but style is most important.”