The 5 Generations That Are Affecting the Future of Your Business

Leslie Lyon

Now is the time many will re-process and re-direct their old thought patterns towards more purposeful, meaningful goals and outcomes.  This new mindset encompasses both giving and receiving, and is rapidly affecting business building strategies around the world.   

The term “mindful consumption” refers not only to our $pending habits but also what we eat, our use of personal and environmental energy, and so on.  Just as importantly, “mindful generosity” represents such things as acts of kindness, activism, paying it forward, and community presence.  These two terms combined equal “mindful experiences”.  Those who are embracing mindfulness want deeper, more personally enriching experiences.  And to the mindful spa-goer, luxury no longer represents the most expensive choices and luxurious possessions. More and more, it represents an enriching personal experience.  

With that being said, your mindful clients, now more than ever will be spa-ing skillfully, considering both expense and enrichment.  So we’d better be able to deliver, right? Yes, but to add to the challenge, we have at least five generations who view expense and enrichment very differently.   In order to match the experience to the expectation, consider thinking in generational differences, strive to understand their character traits and triggers. Understand beliefs, not just behaviours.


1.  Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1954
They may prefer to communicate face to face or on the phone, with email and mobile used a bit and texting very little.  They are starting to use social networking; Twitter is big for them.  They are slowly entering their sunset years as the lead generation to watch, although they still hold vast spending power and mustn’t be underestimated.  They were the creators of “50 is the new 30″, refusing to get old.  They are more mindful of spending than any other generation.  Because of their self-ish nature however, they still believe they should have it all, and have it now, so the enriching spa experience is probably of paramount importance to them. They are confronting bigger challenges with their age; therefore, they are the most prominent generation needing spa “cures”, at great value, with a moving experience.  As employees, they appreciate money and prestige, but also a variety of options and incentives.  Retirement for this segment is slowing with the economic downturn–nest eggs have decreased or even disappeared.

2.  Cuspers (Late Bloomers; Generation Jones): 1954 – 1965
They may prefer to communicate on the phone or email, with texting and mobile now also taking hold.  This generation is a “moral belief system” and considered by some as the “knowledge worker” – they know their stuff and there is a worldwide shortage of them.  They bridge the gap between Boomers and Gen X.  They have the ability to identify with all other generations and therefore may lead well (think of your staff needs here).  They respect tradition but believe in equality (they may therefore be more accepting of well designed co-ed comfort zones than some others might be); they still believe in older practices (European facial and Swedish massage), but embrace technology wholeheartedly (photo facials and bio-feedback); they are philanthropists; and challengers to the boomers.  As clients, being a very reasonable generation, they probably do not have unrealistic expectations of the spa, but will perhaps place great emphasis on being “one of the group” and therefore may look for genuine personal efforts and interaction with their therapists and the spa owner.  As well, they will look for fair market value with good incentives.  To them, this proves there is meaningful interest in retaining their business and enriching the business/personal connection.

3.  Generation X : 1965 – 1979
They may prefer to communicate via email and texting, still using their mobile for voice calls.  They are the “working smarter, not harder” advocates.  These self-reliant, non-conformists coined the phrase “multi-tasking”.  They tend to bump the rules and go for freedom and flexibility vs. rigid formalities.  So, they may appreciate customization and multi-technician treatments in the spa.  They don’t believe in established practices and protocols, so they may prefer to book spa time vs. spa services.  They look to friends before family, as they are the original “latchkey kids”, and as a result, they will probably enjoy relating to their therapist as a peer rather than a professional authority figure.  They will tell you what they expect in the process, and they will look for the “fun factor”.  They witnessed their parents’ job insecurity and an economic downturn, so they may be committed to individual therapists, but not the spa.  They may hesitate on pricing if it is not “tailored to their needs” but will most likely tip well, spend on those products that their therapists have enjoyed, and return often if there is a personal connection with their service provider. As employees, they will seek information from multiple sources, so may not be mentored well – they will gather and create their own “hybrid” solution.  Money is important to them.

 4.  Generation Y (Millennials): 1979 – 1997
They prefer to communicate via texting and facebook, almost exclusively!  These “loved ones” mean everything to their parents and are starting to show up in droves at the spa.  All this parental attention has developed high levels of self-confidence and even over-confidence!  They are known as the “Self-Esteem Movement”. They are used to being acknowledged simply for their presence!  They will probably question and compare your choice of products and techniques used, and while you are servicing them in your “cell-free zone”, they will promise only to text their friends.  They love the feeling of teams, camaraderie, and community, and may therefore enjoy group visits and guest interaction in the comfort areas of your spa.  As employees, their need for community and the “life experience” may look like job hopping to an employer – the average number of jobs an 18-35 year old has had is 7-10. They take well to being mentored by a Boomer or Cusper because those generations love to share, and the Y’s are knowledge hunters and lifelong learners.  They value experiences and social consciousness, and will switch money for opportunity – (e.g., Days off without compensation because they have other life agendas “cause-oriented” – they will stay with you longer if they can volunteer during working hours.) They like “Experiential Leadership Development”. They were raised communicating with adults and may respond well to, and even look for the attention from the spa director and/or spa owner.  Due to parents focusing on more deliberate development for these kids, they may be inclined to choose structured services and packages vs. the “latchkey kids” who demand customized experiences.

 5.  Generation G – For “Generosity”
Giving is the new taking.  Anyone who feels the importance of generosity, please go to . This information is fascinating and refreshing.  But beware, in order to merge with, or call yourself a Generation G, you will need to be able to justify prices; esthetic values/usefulness; quality; enrichment; and outcomes of your services; products; and those who administer them.


Consider carefully:
–Behavioral interviewing

–Communicating with staff and clients about their motivators. Stay on the pulse, be actionable.

–Know the difference between “change management” and “crisis management”

–Have a multi-generational staff task force at your business and allow them to provide real time feedback

–Know objectives – immediate/short term/long term

–Think results, now old ways of thinking–if they get the job done, do you really care how they do it?

2 Responses to “The 5 Generations That Are Affecting the Future of Your Business”

  1. Tommy G. Says:

    Visit Tommy G.

    Interesting article. I’ve seen several discussions recently about the impact of generations in a business context. I’m convinced it really does matter. One of the main takeaways I’ve had with this is the crucial importance of Generation Jones (from all the research I’ve done on this topic, Generation Jones is the term that is almost used for this generation, “cuspers” is a term most often used to describe those between GenX and GenY, although it is used for all those between any generation). In any event, GenJonesers have a lot of cash in their pockets, and are more than a quarter of all US adults. They are worth learning about.

  2. Leslie Says:

    Visit Leslie

    Thanks Tommy. Being a Gen Jones myself, and surrounded by them, I agree they are an important generation to watch. They possess a unique combination of attributes: they’re wise AND tapped-in(their kids are leading the tech revolution), which makes Gen Js (almost) indispenable! Not to mention their pocket books.

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