KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Mar 15 2010

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Are you ready for the next generation of homeowners?

Studying generational patterns and buying habits can be useful for your business, especially if you plan on sticking around for the next couple of decades. Take this tidbit, for example. According to a 2008 report by Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D., of NAHB/HousingEconomics.com, first-time home buyers are 33 years old and account for 43% of homes sold.

This ties in nicely with something else I read—that the majority of housing stock in both the U.S. and Canada is 35 years old—approximately the same age as the buyers.

These new homeowners’ll need help getting their homes up to current codes and design, but there’s another point: a 35-year-old home is severely out of touch with today’s families.

What did we have in home technology 35 years ago?
Not much. Even if you know nothing about generational design, you at least know that these homeowners (and the ones hot on their heels) expect the latest in technology—whether it’s wireless for the home computer system or the best of the pencil-thin television screens. And with kitchen design, this includes appliances as well.

Remember the old story of an older generation not being able to program the clocks on their VCRs? It still holds true. (I’m dating myself here, aren’t I? Also, I note my DVD doesn’t have a clock display. Hmmm.)

Of course, there are tech-savvy people in every generation, but remember this generation we’re talking about grew up thinking microwaves and dishwashers were always part of kitchen design.

In anticipation, appliance manufacturers began introducing the latest touch-pad/touch-screen technology a few years back. The only problem was that the majority of the people who could afford to buy them were the Baby Boomers—the same ones who didn’t want to bother with the clock on the VCR.

See the problem here? Appliance manufacturers were too early.

To be fair, I’m not sure I could have programmed the early ones either—manufacturers were a tad overenthusiastic in the “look how many options we can give you” department. But I wasn’t surprised when appliances quietly went back to knobs for a few years. It wasn’t just because they needed to iron out the touch-pad technology.

Expect to see the latest in touch screen technology at KBIS
For those of you going to KBIS this April, I wouldn’t be the surprised to see the next new wave of LCD display screens on heavy display on everything from ovens to washers. Why? Because the manufacturers have discovered something else—the group after this one doesn’t read instructions unless they appear on a screen.

Have a look at what I just saw the other day at my local appliance showroom—an LCD recipe screen from Jenn-Air. For those who don’t cook, no problem. Press a few buttons and the recipe will even show you a picture of the type of pan to use.

Jenn-Air touch screen

I’m waiting for the one that cooks for me.

Until next time~


This entry was posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010 at 7:00 AM and is filed under Kitchen Design, Products, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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