Have you thought about who really can afford what you make and if it's something they actually want?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
5,425
Reaction score
2,392
Location
Edinburgh
I have been doing a bit of research recently with regard to a couple of ideas I have to earn a sustainable & perhaps improving living once I am back in the workshop proper. One idea as some are aware is the production of a tool for those interested in handtool woodworking that involves inlay and mixed media (my take on a #71 with some additional abilities) this will hopefully come about later in the year. This though will be more of a sideline than the main thrust of my endevours. The other is probably far more pertinent as it is the type of product that I will actually make using my tool and who is going to buy it.

After doing a fair bit of research it has dawned on me that the focus of what I make and who I try to sell to has to indeed it must change if i want to have a long term viable business that will support me and the boss into and during the ages of retirement. The bit of research that has prompted this trends to showing over the next decade (in fact in less than that) a truly staggering event will happen. What is this event? Well, every single baby boomer will have reached retirement age. The biggest consumer market grouping in history will have entered that stage that every manufacturer dreads, they will have become part of the least consumptive part of the population while simultaneously making that population the largest selling market in history. On top of this, something that most don't realise is that the replacement "active" consumer market ie those who spend to improve their homes, replace things due to need or fashion as their family grows up are not really there. Well they are but they are a hell of a lot smaller as a percentage of population to the extent that many countries are going to have a massive depopulation of their earning productive population over the next 40 years. This is caused by a lot of factors, education, urbanization, lower fertility and many more. The big important thing for me/us as people making stuff to sell is that the traditional market for our goods are not going going to have the disposable income to splash out on a lot of the stuff we make due to additional burdens caused by maintaining both debt repayments both personal and those inflicted by the state (taxation) to cover the repayment of debt accrued today (such as pandemic costs etc) and social programs that cater for an ever expanding non economically production and increasingly long lived retired population.

Given that the boomer group also appear to be the class that will have the most disposable "income" or cash to spend on things to enjoy their retirement and that they will already have the home, trinkets etc that they want; what thoughts or steps have you taken to make what you do relelvant to their buying urges/needs. Have you given it any thought at all, have you noticed what they appear to want. What particular style of fashion do they want these items to be in? What say you?
 

peter-harrison

Established Member
Joined
25 Jan 2018
Messages
276
Reaction score
106
Location
Cambridge
I have had similar thoughts. I'm a boomer myself (1961) so maybe I don't need to worry too much personally, but I don't think you need to be so pessimistic about boomers retiring- lots of my clients are retired. I think they have got to the point where they aren't supporting their kids anymore, and there are things around the house that have bugged them for decades...!
Houses are getting smaller so less furniture needed- but that small space needs clever storage.
People are less interested in antiques now. When I started the local antique shop was definitely part of the competition but now not so much.
My plan is eventually to get rid of the large workshop and heavy machinery, and have a lathe in my garden- it's something I enjoy, it doesn't involve heavy lifting, and I seem to be able to sell most of the things I make.
 

BucksDad

Established Member
Joined
11 Apr 2021
Messages
165
Reaction score
93
Location
Chilterns
So many of that generation are / will be involved with childcare for their grandparents - kids beds / furniture, personalised toy chests especially would probably be a big hit. There was someone on here who posted on the "post a pic of what you made" thread I think who posted a picture of a little step / stool for a little one to help in the kitchen... that would easily sell to many a Grandma.

A little morbid but personally I think coffins and ashes storage is also likely to be popular in terms of an active choice. I believe the state's / societies answer to the cost of care for the elderly will be legalisation of euthanasia within 5-10 years. This will start with terminal illness and gradually the restrictions will lessen. People will have the choice of going into a care home and spending the inheritance on care or ending their life. As a result, death will become more planned.
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
5,425
Reaction score
2,392
Location
Edinburgh
@BucksDad One of the big problems is that there wont be as many grandparents around just lots of old people. For the UK the median number of children born to a women here has been 1.59 children per woman over the last 40 years. So not even enough to sustain the same size of population as of 1980 let alone now to do that you needed each woman to have 2.1 kids. Women over 70 outnumber men 4 to 1 and are currently around 5% of the UK population this will rise over the next 15 years to ~20% of the population as a whole, with people over 55 out numbering those under by 2.01 to 1 and the average age of the UK population will be ~49. The most common type of household will be a woman over 60 living on their own. I found this to be a real eye opener and has me really rethinking what I can make that this group of people the largest but least spendy consumer group would actually want to by from me.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,910
Location
PA, US
I think the boomers will keep spending. My parents are maybe in the early part of the boomer generation, but they were cheap their whole lives. My mother is a maker of sorts and sold her stuff (very profitably) at craft fairs for around 40 years or just shy of it. She made different stuff than she thought she wood, but within about 5 years or so of starting, had kind of settled into her niche. Really 1 or 2 years into it, she'd done that, but she got much better at it and made some more changes after the first couple.

The one thing she was able to do the entire time is make enough money to make it worthwhile, and to sell to people who were walk up customers, so she didn't get tied up in custom orders or people asking endless questions wasting her time.

The boomer and retiree generation is still going to be your customer - they're not minimalists like the next generation may be and they are descended from people who didn't have much, so they still have the bone where they want to be holding something in their hand when they spend money (vs. people in my generation - I'm 45 - and those younger yet, who want to have a nice house and spend the rest of their money on "experiences" and have otherwise bare shelves.

If you find something that sells sporadically, use the other making time to come up with ideas that may also sell complementary, and change slowly once you find things that sell.

My mother's best attribute once she got rolling is that she wouldn't mind working three or four hours at a time and when she was working, she was rolling (as in, if you tried to paint what she was painting, it would've taken 15 times as long). That made her prices appear to be cheap compared to other people, but it also made her work smoother and skillful - reflexive, smooth, and more natural looking - and she got her take (which is probably about $30 an hour in current dollars - her shop and equipment cost was pretty much zero - so it's not like justifying a woodworking shop with 5 figures of tools in it and needing to make more an hour to make it worthwhile).

That doesn't give you a lot of great ideas - but what I did notice in her circuit was there was a no-man's-land between reflexive purchase (not expensive enough to make someone think twice) and really high end stuff. The people in the middle didn't last long.
 

Jameshow

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2020
Messages
2,845
Reaction score
1,596
Location
Bradford
@BucksDad One of the big problems is that there wont be as many grandparents around just lots of old people. For the UK the median number of children born to a women here has been 1.59 children per woman over the last 40 years. So not even enough to sustain the same size of population as of 1980 let alone now to do that you needed each woman to have 2.1 kids. Women over 70 outnumber men 4 to 1 and are currently around 5% of the UK population this will rise over the next 15 years to ~20% of the population as a whole, with people over 55 out numbering those under by 2.01 to 1 and the average age of the UK population will be ~49. The most common type of household will be a woman over 60 living on their own. I found this to be a real eye opener and has me really rethinking what I can make that this group of people the largest but least spendy consumer group would actually want to by from me.
Germain Greer has much to answer for!!🤣🤣🤣
 

Terry - Somerset

Established Member
Joined
22 Dec 2012
Messages
1,208
Reaction score
638
Location
Taunton
This is an interesting problem but there is a danger in generalities:
  • baby boomers (I am a 1953 model) frequently enjoyed final salary indexed pensions. Those born after ~1980 will rarely be so fortunate.
  • spending power is very variable - those on basic state pensions with limited savings struggle, those with final salary pensions and large "downsizable" properties have high spending power
  • state pension age has already increased and is likely to do so further. There is also increasing flexibility in the workplace as people age - part time, consultancy etc
  • health is very variable - in those above 60 some suffer chronic (possibly disabling) problems, others remain active until well into their 80s
By 2050, 25% (~18m) of the UK population will be over 65. 20% (3.6m) of pensioner households had an income of over ~£30k pa. Likely to be those with larger properties, savings, investments and no mortgage. Lots of companies are competing for the grey pound. For a small business I suspect a niche is better than serving the whole market.

The indulgent grandparent may be fertile ground - traditional wooden toys (I made granddaughter a play kitchen, rocking horse, ride on toy). This can have eco and retro appeal - local materials, no plastic, hand made etc etc.

Smaller items could be sold online and easily shipped. Larger items lend themselves to local sale. Possibly even flat-packed so the indulgent grandfather can add "value". In many ways marketing and pricing (right, not cheap) is more important than the product.

Gifts between £50-250 are within scope. At (say) £100 a time, selling 3 a month generates an income of £36k pa. Not all profit as you need to buy materials, but it does illustrate that a niche product can generate a decent income for a small business.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,509
Reaction score
671
Location
devon
Im gonna become a drug dealer and get them all hooked on crack 😆🤣

Or maybe just carry on in building 🤷‍♂️

Or, did any of you see the episode on futurama where bender goes in the suicide pod?? Maybe I'll make that 😆
 

Just4Fun

Established Member
Joined
21 Sep 2017
Messages
967
Reaction score
337
Location
Finland
20 Years ago I heard an item on local radio in the UK. Some guy was being interviewed and he predicted exactly this situation arising. He also claimed that a large proportion of these people had never really cooked very much in their lives and he pointed out that this will create a problem as they lose income, since take-aways etc are an expensive way to eat. So his conclusion was that there would be an opportunity for someone to supply cheap ready-made meals that can be pinged in a microwave. Sounds reasonable, but I don't know how to make those meals out of wood.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,509
Reaction score
671
Location
devon
20 Years ago I heard an item on local radio in the UK. Some guy was being interviewed and he predicted exactly this situation arising. He also claimed that a large proportion of these people had never really cooked very much in their lives and he pointed out that this will create a problem as they lose income, since take-aways etc are an expensive way to eat. So his conclusion was that there would be an opportunity for someone to supply cheap ready-made meals that can be pinged in a microwave. Sounds reasonable, but I don't know how to make those meals out of wood.


How about some kind of reconstituted woodchip/ resin mix? Most of us have d4 glue to form it into sausage or burger shapes.....
 

Dee J

Established Member
Joined
24 Jan 2006
Messages
370
Reaction score
110
Location
West Devon
Gifts between £50-250 are within scope. At (say) £100 a time, selling 3 a month generates an income of £36k pa. Not all profit as you need to buy materials, but it does illustrate that a niche product can generate a decent income for a small business.
Not sure I follow your maths here.
 

Dee J

Established Member
Joined
24 Jan 2006
Messages
370
Reaction score
110
Location
West Devon
One thing that has struck me from the art world is luck has an incredibly important role. The old adage applies to a certain degree 'the harder I work the luckier I get' but not entirely. Lots of very talented people produce brilliant work with little recognition. Getting 'the break' seems to be key, being noticed and publicised by, in classical terms, a patron. Patron can still be an individual person, but can equally be a gallery, a media stream. If you get that break, get on that wave, then customers will come to you. If you don't then a lot of your time will be occupied looking for them.
 

Blackswanwood

Still Learning
Joined
17 Nov 2018
Messages
1,391
Reaction score
1,719
Location
North Yorkshire
It's an interesting question and the underlying demographic change is undoubtedly upon us.

Personally I think there will always be spaces in markets where small manufacturers and trades can make a very good living. Environmental concerns, a hankering for traditional/unique goods and personal service/quality always having a value are all opportunities.

There are different views on how wealth will change. One way or another (tax or direct spend) baby boomers are going to have to fund increased life expectancy with creaking bodies. That spend all flows into the economy and creates wealth that the next generation will benefit from.
 
Top