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Trend One: Society and Demographics

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series of four trend summaries from Vision 2020, an initiative pioneered by Bayer and NPMA to help guide and shape the future of the pest management industry. The multi-year initiative will identify future trends and equip the industry to enhance its value to society in the midst of emerging societal, economic, technological and regulatory issues. The following focuses on emerging trends and implications in the area of society and demographics.

VISION 2020 — Future trends and implications for the pest management industry

Chapter 1: Society and Demographics

Nothing will affect the future of the pest management industry more than the seismic demographic shifts reshaping America. These shifts represent several important dimensions, each with its own implications for our industry.

Population Growth. Census experts believe that the U.S. population will grow from 314 million in 2012 to 420 million in 2060 - a 40 percent increase in a span of nearly 50 years. These projections represent a slowing of population growth, an increase in the aging population and an increase in diversity. This growth, while minor compared to the “Baby Boom” years, nevertheless will create expanded households all across our country.

Implications: With modest population growth will come a new wave of potential customers for pest management services.

Age. Between now and 2020, America will continue aging as millions of Baby Boomers retire. This “silver tsunami” already is having a ripple affect on healthcare costs, the housing market, purchases of goods and services and, of course, the labor market. According to noted futurist and author Glen Hiemstra, it won’t be long before more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population is over 65, resulting in a nation of “27 Floridas”.

At the same time, a new generation of Americans is emerging, but they are very different from their parents. They are tech-savvy digital natives with a strong sense of community and a short career attention span.

Implications: This generational shift has significant implications from both a customer and labor perspective. From a customer perspective, PMPs will need to anticipate the needs of these seniors as they retire and relocate to new living situations or geographies. PMPs will also have to anticipate the needs of younger consumers as they become first-time homeowners and parents.

From a workforce perspective, PMPs will face a labor shortage — perhaps a labor crisis — as Boomers retire. They will need to attract younger workers, which will require new approaches to recruitment (Millenials want to make a difference in the world), retention (Millenials are quick to change jobs) and training (Millenials want bite-size, just-in-time information, delivered via the latest technology). Most importantly, it will be a buyer’s market, so PMPs will have to become much more aggressive about identifying potential applicants.

Gender. By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that women’s participation rate in the labor force will be greater than that of men for the first time in history. Women also will continue their ascent as primary breadwinners in many households.

Implications: To recruit the best employees, PMPs will need to find a way to make pest management an attractive career for women, especially working moms. This may include offering flexible hours, nursing rooms and childcare benefits.

Race and Ethnicity. The face of America is changing. Between now and 2030, minority populations will account for 77 percent of the population growth, and 40 percent of that will be Hispanics.

Implications: From a customer perspective, PMPs will need to attune their services and marketing efforts to the needs of an increasingly large Hispanic homeowner. From a workforce perspective, PMPs will need to adapt their approach to recruiting, retention and training.

Values. While the country may be deeply divided on a range of political issues, there are some common values that will continue to cut across age, gender and socio-economic boundaries. These include consumer empowerment, sustainability and healthfulness. Technology will continue to change the way people gather and share information, resulting in consumers who are smarter about the purchase decisions they make and better able to communicate with others to support - or destroy - products and services that don’t meet their expectations. In this new age of transparency, these same consumers will hold companies more accountable for their behaviors. In the years ahead, futurist Hiemstra believes, a growing number of health-conscious consumers will want to be assured that the products and services they buy won’t harm people or the environment, but rather will contribute to the overall health and well-being of society over the long term.

Implications: PMPs will need to adopt the latest technologies so they can communicate with and serve the needs of consumers empowered by massive amounts of data. They’ll also need to position their services in the context of changing values around sustainability and health. This may include adopting softer solutions, dialing up advocacy and education efforts and, most importantly, repositioning pest control so that it is less focused on the killing of bugs and more focused around the positive benefits of protecting public health where people live, work and play.

Posted August 29, 2013