This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Baby Boomers Are in Downsizing Mode

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- At 78 million strong, baby boomers usually get what they want as consumer.

That's how we got the Ford Mustang, lite beer, granite countertops and video on demand. The younger half of the boomers famously said, "I want my MTV" -- and they got it.

So when boomers start saying they're tired of "going big" on everything from cheeseburgers to McMansions, businesses better begin paying close attention, and that's exactly what the generation born between 1946 to 1964 is saying now. It's a downsizing world they want, and they're going to get it, but not without the amenities and comforts the materialistic boomers are famous for.

"Those baby boomers who worked hard for and embraced the affluent lifestyle of the 1970s through the middle of the last decade  owning large homes and spacious vehicles -- have reached a turning point," says Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends and a "futurist" for Ford. "This generation is now trending toward a simpler way of living, one that doesn't eliminate the lavish comforts they've come to enjoy.

"The boomer population has always set the trends," she adds, "and now they've set a course for a more streamlined life that doesn't sacrifice style and comfort."

Ford, along with the multibrand homebuilder Del Webb, commissioned a study on what boomers want these days and found that the demographic is tired of paying huge mortgages for large homes, and big payments for outsized SUVs. Instead, most boomers are turning to smaller, quieter homes and say they want to drive mini-sized, more energy efficient utility vehicles.

Home sizes are going especially full circle.

Del Webb notes that homes sizes have grown from 860 square feet in 1960 to 2,505 square feet in 2012. But the homebuilder says the times really are changing, and that 28% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 59 say they plan to downsize on their next home purchase. Previously, it was the 65-years-old-and-up demographic driving the downsizing, but that is trending younger these days, Del Webb says.

That doesn't mean boomers necessarily want to give up those granite countertops  they're just going be more selective, and more judicious before they sign any checks.

"Boomers may be downsizing," says Steve Burch, vice president of strategic marketing for Del Webb, "but they have worked for a long time, and they don't want to compromise on high-end [home] features."

The same sentiment goes for what vehicles boomers park in their driveways these days. According to Ford, the auto giant says it's seeing more interest in its compact SUV, the Escape, which is 31% smaller than the 2014 Ford Explorer.

Ford says that compact vehicle sales have "steadily climbed" since 2004, and that trend is accelerating 10 years later.

"Trendy baby boomers want to downsize their homes and their vehicles, but they're not willing to give up premium content in either case," says Amy Marentic, a marketing manager at Ford. "Personally, I felt the need to downsize. My children are in college and I have no need for the larger utility any more, but I still want to feel like I'm driving something special."

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,067.56 -30.89 -0.18%
S&P 500 2,002.28 -1.09 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,598.1880 +17.9170 0.39%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs