So many people in associations are looking into their crystal ball these days and wondering what the future holds for them and their members. Between a stagnant economy, polarizing political process, and apathy of members...they are wondering where it all leads.
I am here to tell you that the next 15 to 20 years stand to be some of the most prosperous growth years that associations and their members seen in many years.
The reasons are 2 simple numbers: 32 and 72. If you look at the chart included in this post (by KGC Direct), many opportunities should jump out at you as you begin to understand the flow of the various demographic groups. These 2 numbers are game changers of the future because:
32 is the age of the oldest Gen Y'er, the largest generation in history, with around 80 million people. That is 10 million more people driving the economy than the Gen X generation. If you go out just another 5 years, that puts the younger generation at around 100 million people. An individual's highest income producing years begin to happen in their 30's and 40's, providing more discretionary income for the largest generation to spend on driving the economy. 32 is also the average age of a first time home buyer, according to the National Association of Realtors, which spells a huge opportunity in the home builder's associations, and any association attached to the home building industry. The automotive industry stands to see record sales as well, with many young couples having their first children in their early 30's (depending on the ride sharing phenomena and the self-driven car developments). Many young couples upgrade their car once they have their first child. Any industry associated with the wedding industry is going to grow leaps and bounds as the largest generation in history gets married, Baby Boomers who are divorced get ting remarried, and the legalization of gay marriage adds further demand on the wedding industry. This is everything from wedding venues, photographers, florists...if it's connected to the wedding industry, it's going to grow at record levels. These are just a few of the many industries that will stand to gain from this dynamic demographic growth. It is critical to your association's future that you understand this data and capitalize on it.
Practically no one in any generation joined an association in their 20's. Gen Y's aren't joining associations because they don't understand associations yet and have little discretionary income to join. With the Gen Y generation now beginning to mature into their early 30's, like every generation before them, they will figure out the power of networking and being connected to the value and resources that associations offer. If your association delivers great value and delivers it in a way that connects with Gen Y, then your association stands to see membership growth like you have never seen before.
72 is the age of the oldest Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers are now the second largest generation in history. They are living longer than previous generations and are more active into their 80's. Like Gen Y, they will drive main industry sectors, including (but not limited to): industries connected to RV sales, hospice care, funeral homes, medical devices, healthcare, campgrounds, and retirement communities. Technologies like UBER are going to give FREEDOM to experience life to the elderly, as the battery powered wheelchair gave to those with disabilities. The elderly will no longer be restricted to activities where they live. Industries that combine the UBER transportation strategy in attracting baby boomers to experience their industry will win big in the future.
As I close out this post, I don't want any readers to discount the impact of those between 32 and 52...the Gen X'ers. This is a powerful generation, who are are developing leaders and members RIGHT NOW. As I stated in my last blog post, associations need to turn their attention to engaging Gen X NOW and look to build awareness to Gen Y as most all of them are 12 to 32, and only a few years removed from secondary schooling with little discretionary income to invest in association membership.
The key is to understand the demographic data, understand the opportunities it will create, get in front of the changes happening, and enhance your value proposition to engage the demographic changes to join your association.