News Column

Understanding Demographics Critical in Business

February 13, 2013

Kimberlee Kruesi

If businesses want to succeed in the future, they must change to meet the demands of a new generation's demographics.

It's a global trend that has an impact on local businesses even in the Magic Valley, said Ken Gronbach, a futurist and demographer expert, during Tuesday's Economic Breakfast, an annual event sponsored by First Federal Bank.

"Generation Y does not see race, they tell time different, they speak cyber first," he said. "This is going to change everything."

The Connecticut native spoke to Magic Valley business and economic leaders on the importance of knowing not just the local demographic, but also the future generation's changes and preferences.

To do this, business owners should look to population changes to make long-term decisions.

Companies like Johnson and Johnson spent almost $2.5 billion in marketing when executives saw sales beginning to drop soon after the baby boomer generation started having children, Gronbach said. Instead of looking at birth rates, the company wasted money on an aggressive ad campaign that ultimately failed, he said.

"They didn't look at the numbers," he said. "People didn't stop buying their products, there were fewer babies being born."

During his presentation, Gronbach explained that fewer babies are being born across the globe except in the West. This could lead to companies moving more manufacturing jobs to the United States because other countries won't have the population to replace the current workforce.

According to Gronbach, Generation Y -- individuals born between 1985 and 2004 -- will demand better wages for women and put them in positions of leadership. That generation will not just accept more diversity in their workplace, they will expect it.

"You have an economic mandate to understand them and to get in front of their demand," he said.

Source: (c) 2013 The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho) Distributed by MCT Information Services

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters