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BOOK REVIEW: The Age Curve by Kenneth Gronbach

The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Demographic Storm (Hardcover)

by Kenneth W. Gronbach

The Age Curve is a book about numbers.  Don’t worry.  The author does the math.

The author Kenneth Gronbach, a proud member of the Baby Boomer generation, outlines the numbers of live births in the US starting from the beginning of the 1900’s and ending with projected estimates in 2010.  This sounds boring, but this book is a fun read filled with anecdotes, quirky observations and the occasional easy-to-understand chart.  

Using these simple numbers and market data, the author highlights typical spending and work habits of each generation, concentrating on Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.  Mr. Gronbach cites many examples to show the impact of population on the market.  This information, he claims, is (dangerously) being ignored by everyone from Levi’s chain of command to the White House and Karl Rove.  He deftly explains why Honda motorcycle dealerships disappeared overnight, how Walmart will soon have to drastically change their format to survive, and how Social Security will fail.  He gives Generation X a well-earned break from the criticism and lends immigrants a welcoming hand.  Gronbach finishes the book with the gloom and glory Generation Y will bring.

The book reads like a conversation, which includes an occasional non-sequitur and incomplete points, which a more thorough editing could remedy.  Also, the book lacks any opposing views to clear up the befuddling question of why big box stores and our government are consistently ignoring what Gronbach presents as undeniable evidence of impending doom (my guess is they need to read Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions or Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior to examine why they are holding steadfast to yesterday’s markets).

Personally, this book has helped me to understand why Generation X has gotten a bad rap and how to position myself and my investments in the market for the next several decades.  It’s a must-read for any marketer or any parent of an X or Y generation member.