30 Jan

PFOS: The Proof is in the Data

Specific Characteristics of Today’s Generations

The phrase “multigenerational membership” is one that private club leaders know all too well. While every club is unique, the one factor all must navigate is how to bolster an environment that speaks to multiple generations. This concept is far from transitory. In fact, the topic has moved to the forefront of many conversations as millennials begin considering the idea of belonging to a private club. What can be done to appeal to all ages? How can we become more “family-friendly” and what facilities reign supreme in today’s modern world? All of these questions center on the basic idea of being inclusive to … you guessed it, a multigenerational membership.

Chambers has touched on the importance of this before, so instead of summarizing what we’ve already presented, I want to further expand on the concept. But to truly understand what facilities must do to embrace all ages, we must first understand what these respective generations desire. How? By analyzing specific, tangible data. Below I’ll outline what the data says about each generation so that we can begin to find common threads in each, and therefore, create spaces that welcome all.

Baby Boomers

Ah – the baby boomers. Raise your hand if you fall into this category (yes, my arm is in the air). Though a large majority of baby boomers are stilling working, many are also gearing up for the next chapter: retirement (anyone now wishing their hand was raised?). Additionally, while many are still working full- or part-time, most are now empty-nesters, according to Pew Research Center, and they’re generally viewed as hard workers who have saved and spent wisely. Boomers didn’t take many risks during their first 30 years of adulthood so that they could save up enough to enjoy the latter half. Though recently eclipsed by their children, they’re still the second largest generation, following closely behind millennials.

What can we derive from all of this? The person spending the most time at your club today is, most likely, a baby boomer. Their kids have flown the nest, they’re easing into retirement (or at least thinking of doing so), and life for most is starting to slow down for the first time in a long time—keyword here being time. And with more of that on their hands, baby boomers can finally start being selfish with how they intend to spend theirs.

Another interesting fact to consider is that though baby boomers are often seen as less tech-savvy than their successors, they aren’t tech-adverse altogether. In fact, there are many technologies they’re quite proficient in.  It’s important for clubs targeting this generation to remember that baby boomers have been exposed to technology over recent decades. And according to Pew, they’ve acclimated themselves with technology more than you might think. The data shows that 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores and shopping malls.

Additionally, they’re more health-conscious than their parents. Medical technology makes it possible for boomers to live healthier, longer. Unlike their parents, who desired to relax during retirement, the baby boomer generation wants to get out and do all the things they’ve always dreamed of doing. Most seniors today can remain active many years following retirement. Fifty is the new forty –and baby boomers aren’t yet thinking of themselves as an aging population.

It is clear that baby boomers were a hard-working generation. And, they value that hard work. Yet, they also have a strong desire to enjoy a higher quality of life. And private clubs present the perfect opportunity to do so.

Generation X

While there are fewer Gen Xers (65 million) than boomers (77 million) or millennials (an estimated 83 million), they’re the most important generation to consider when accommodating a “family-friendly” membership. Many have also reached the point where they’re both established and succeeding in their chosen profession, they’re confident, and they know what they want. Our twenties are hard, but Gen Xers have navigated that rough terrain and are moving onto the next season of life. For many, that season includes parenthood. Private clubs must consider this one extremely important factor when planning facility enhancements.

Research indicates that Gen Xers are savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into pampering. This doesn’t mean that they will dismiss a day at the spa, it just means that messaging geared towards a “couples massage” or a fun “girl’s spa day” may be more successful when targeting this generation. Creating spaces where their loved ones can thrive is just as important—if not more important—than their own happiness.

Generation X grew up in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates, and a faltering economy. As a result, they’re independent, resourceful, and flexible. Subsequently, they adapt well to change.  This is great news for private clubs interested in evolving to meet modern needs. Most importantly, unlike previous generations, Gen Xers work to live rather than live to work. They exude a work hard/play hard mentality – two things that private clubs emulate.


Just as it’s important to cater to the above generations, it’s equally as important to create spaces that welcome millennials. They are the future after all. And as the largest living generation today, staying relevant in their eyes is critical to your future success.

Data shows that millennials are incredibly tech-savvy, social, adventure-driven, collaborative, and passionate about their values. Millennials are also generally regarded as being more open-minded, upbeat, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living (Live Science).  And according to Pew, they’re eager to make real connections, crave experiences over things, and value community involvement – even more so than generations past. These characteristics sound like the kind of people you’d want on your committees, no?  Well, one day … they will be.

Although millennials possess many attributes that may differ from generations before them, research shows that there are also many similarities that lie within these different age groups. And many of which present great opportunities for private clubs.

It’s important to note that this data generalizes a group of people rather than focusing on individuals, and just like most things, these characteristics won’t apply to everyone just simply due to the year in which they were born. But by understanding these different characteristics, and breaking down what exactly they mean, your club can better cater to the majority and provide an atmosphere in which many can thrive under one roof.

Stay tuned for our Winter Issue of Club Road where we’ll dive further into each generation, explain what all of this data means, and break down how clubs can complement these specific characteristics. I promise this is one you won’t want to miss!

How is your club managing a multi-generational membership? Leave a comment below!

Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/
Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/
OtherWise: The Wisdom You Need to Succeed in a Diverse and Divisive World (2012) by Dick Martin

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