Demographer Ken Gronbach (KGC Direct) spoke about the importance of the Millennial birth rate, China’s population concerns, social justice and more during his keynote address at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) 2021 Virtual Summer Conference. Gronbach presented “Demographics Precipitate Economics | Profound Strategic Planning for the Post-Pandemic Era” and answered questions about how demographics can inform those in the industry on their companies’ futures.
“Demography is destiny,” Gronbach repeated as his refrain, before addressing the ways population tracking and trends can gauge both product demand and potential talent pool. “We in the U.S. don’t have a lot of young people under 10 years old right now,” said Gronbach. “It’s even more so the case in Canada. This could mean labor shortages in the future.”
China and Population Concerns
While Gronbach noted that Millennials’ trend of marrying and having children later than previous generations has had an impact in North America, it is small compared to what is happening with China’s population as a result of its longtime one child policy. Gronbach said this policy removed a large block of potential labor there.
“The equivalent to the population of Mexico is missing when it comes to women in China,” stated Gronbach of this deficit. “You need mothers in order to have kids. Today’s families in China are four grandparents, two parents and one child. This is a problem. I don’t know if China’s economy will collapse quickly or slowly, but it’s coming.”
Gronbach said companies in the U.S. and Canada can “go fishing where the fish are,” meaning they can use population data to better predict who is going to buy products in the future and how many of those people there are.
“Look at populations to make accurate predictions,” he said. “It is simple math.”
Millennials and Baby Boomers
Generations play a large role in making such determinations, he said, noting that Baby Boomers are the biggest generation except for Generation Y, or Millennials. Millennials, along with their children and future children, will need manufacturing, health care, cars, housing and more. “As a company, you need to know how big your end-user markets are and if they are getting bigger or smaller,” said Gronbach. “You also need to know the size of your talent pools.”
He warned companies against the pitfalls of making business decisions based solely on money. “Make decisions at your company based on people, not money,” he advised. “People have value and are real. Also, they use and consume your products.”
Gronbach recommended not only hiring Millennials but having one lead one’s human resources division. “Have a great Millennial leading it to hire more great Millennials,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of Millennials. You want a mixture of ages and other demographics. Baby Boomers are about to leave the workforce in droves. Make sure they train your younger workforce before they do [in order to] cultivate your Millennials’ skills.”
Speaking of Baby Boomers retiring, Gronbach suggested targeting this demographic in new ways as they begin to enjoy a different stage of life. “Baby Boomers with a ton of money are going to redefine retirement. Accommodate them with your products and services. Soon, we will be a nation of Florida-style retirement communities.”
Diversity and Social Justice
For Millennials, diversity is a way of life, Gronbach said. They care about social justice. Additionally, by 2045, white people will be minorities, he said. Businesses would be well served by looking at populations like Latinos, who make up about 18.5 percent of the country, African Americans, who make up 13 percent and finally Asian Americans, who make up 6 percent. “What are their unique structure needs?” Gronbach encouraged companies to consider.
Finally, Gronbach stressed how powerful the U.S. economy is on the world stage, COVID-19 recession or not. “The U.S. represents 4 percent of the world’s population, but precipitates 35 percent of the world’s economy. We are the world’s economy.”