Kyle T. Webster

Yes, the baby boomers are a huge cohort. But look out, Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials or Echo Boomers) is even bigger: 87 million born between 1979 and 1999. According to “GenShift 2011: Lifestages Redefining the Kitchen,” Masco Cabinetry’s recent study of 1,092 homeowners, Gen Yers as young as 26 years old are purchasing big-ticket items — including homes and remodeling services.

“Remodelers need to make themselves relevant to these people by understanding their lifestyle,” says Sarah Reep, director of design relations and education at Masco Cabinetry.

Meet Their Needs

Masco’s research highlights seven key findings and offers suggestions for implementing design strategies.

For example, the study found that Gen Y has the highest expectation (compared with Generation X and boomers) of parents living with them in the future. What does this mean for business? Homeowners will want kitchens that meet multigenerational needs, so remodelers should suggest pull-out drawers that eliminate bending and reaching. “Keep design simple, and offer options for less clutter,” Reep says.

The study also found that “dog food may be more important than wine” — 25% of homeowners felt that a place in the kitchen for feeding the pet is one of their top-three kitchen extras; just 10% wanted wine storage. (Other extras include appliance storage, cleaning supply storage, and waste/recycling areas.)

Other findings show that 44% of Gen Y spends a significant amount of time in the kitchen entertaining and watching TV or using a computer. Reep suggests adding entertainment space and charging stations into kitchen design.

Pay Attention

While Gen Yers may have grown up buying from big-box stores, they still respond to good service and someone who listens to them and who offers surprise and delight. “They want smaller, intimate engagement,” Reep says. “To capture Gen Y, bring ’em in and love ’em up.” —Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

Watch a short video of Masco Cabinetry’s Sarah Reep talking about Gen Y’s design needs: “It’s Not Their Mother’s Kitchen”

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