3 Hot Demographics Your Business Can Profit From in 2012

Remember when the Baby Boomers were the hottest consumer group to target? The Boomers are still pretty influential, but this year, three different age groups are making waves with their size, influence and purchasing power. Here’s a closer look.

3 generations


If you think the baby boom is over, think again. There are over 83 million children age 19 and under in the U.S. From 1987 to 2010, close to or more than 4 million babies were born in the U.S. each year—the official designation of a “boom”—and the trend is likely to continue for at least.

There are many entrepreneurial opportunities when it comes to children, but education is a particularly hot area. Faced with state and local budget shortfalls, school districts nationwide are slashing their budgets. At the same time, it’s much harder to get into college than ever before, yet parents consider a college education essential to make their kids competitive in the job market. As a result, they’re eagerly spending on extracurricular programs that help their kids get better grades or learn skills like music and art that schools have eliminated.

Language instruction is a major growth area here as well, as a more global workforce and more diverse U.S. drives home to parents the importance of children learning a foreign language. AnythingResearch.com reports that language instruction is already a $1 billion industry, and has a 13 percent annual growth rate.

Twenty Somethings

Remember that new baby boom I just mentioned? Well, the oldest members of the boom that began in 1987 are turning 25 this year, and the rest of those echo boomers are right behind them. Meanwhile, the median age at which people first get married has been on the rise since the 1960s: In 2010, it was 28.2 years old for men and 26.1 for women. Next year, a whole generation of women will reach prime marrying age—creating a huge market for wedding-related products and services.

Although a recent Pew survey found 40 percent of Americans say marriage is “obsolete,” there are plenty of people for whom weddings not only are still in fashion, they’re also big business. Based on population data, America is on the verge of a wedding boom that’s expected to last for the next 23 years.

If you already own a wedding-related business such as a catering, floral design, videography or photography company, it’s clear how this trend relates to you. There are also new opportunities, such as those created by the legalization of gay marriage in a growing number of states, and the plethora of overweight Americans who need stylish plus-sized formalwear and wedding gowns.


Remember those original baby boomers I mentioned? The oldest of them turned 65 last year. According to the 2010 Census, 13 percent of Americans were age 65 or older in 2010, but by 2030, that percentage will jump to 20 percent. In other words, the U.S. as a whole will look a lot more like Florida.

But baby boomers aren’t the big story here: The real boom will be in Americans aged 85 and up (the boomers’ parents). The number of Americans 85 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, reaching 6 million.

One of the biggest trends with seniors is that they overwhelmingly want to “age in place” in their own homes instead of going into a senior living facility or nursing home. As a result, services and products to help them do so will be hot for the next 20 years or more. These could include in-home medical or nonmedical care to assist with activities of daily living; senior day-care programs to get seniors out of the house and socializing; products or services to retrofit homes with grab bars, wider doorways and other features that allow older people to move about safely; and monitoring services that let adult children check in on their senior parents’ health and happiness via webcam, email or text updates.

How will you capitalize on trends?

Generations Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.