Store D├ęcor: Multigenerational Marketing

Design experts offer tips and tricks for creating a retail space that appeals to patients of all ages

Store Décor: Multigenerational Marketing

Design experts offer tips and tricks for creating a retail space that appeals to patients of all ages



New LED track lighting makes the frame displays shine. Image by Ennco Display Systems


A soft blue-green palette makes for a relaxing space. Image by Magic Designs/Visual Dynamics


Unique flooring creates a natural flow. Image courtesy of Magic Design/Visual Dynamics


Metals mix with dark woods for a modern look. Image courtesy of Ennco Display Systems

Like other culturally compartmentalized units, demographic groups, from the silent generation and baby boomers to generations X, Y, and Z, are said to have their own personality, a shared set of values and beliefs. It is this personality that shapes the way they behave and the way they live—and more important, the way they shop.

Understanding the purchasing habits of each generation, as well as the reasoning behind them, is key to creating a successful retail environment. Here, we outline winning strategies for each generation and how to incorporate them into your store design.


Generation Y, particularly those in the 18 to 29 age range, prefer a minimalist approach à la the styles of Europe and Asia.

“They prefer open, clutter-free spaces where it’s easy to browse,” says Jan Ennis, president and CEO of Ennco Display Systems, which specializes in full-service retail design and display furnishings.

Generation Y holds tightly to the past, and is drawn to the idea of a revival of old and new, says Cy Furman, founder of Magic Design/Visual Dynamics, a division of Ennco Display Systems. “They prefer the dark woods and straight, clean lines reminiscent of the 1950s and earlier into the 1930s and 1920s. A lot of the ‘contemporary’ design is actually retro. It’s a new cycle.”

In terms of color, this generation prefers a more muted palette with pops of vibrant hues. “They prefer an almost stark aesthetic, whites and other light colors mixed with metals like aluminum and stainless steel, and then lightly accented with vibrant reds, greens, and blues and changing LED lights,” says Ennis.

Generation X and baby boomers, on the other hand, share a different set of preferences, opting for a professional, polished design.

“They tend to be more in the zone with the professional, commercial look,” says Ennis. “The fixtures can be kind of edgy, but they want the overall ambiance of the space to be very clean, very professional, and well lit—more like a high-end department store.”

Baby boomers are also interested in bridging the gap between the old and the new, what Furman refers to as a neo-classical style. “They look for classic styling, but boomers also put a great value on new technology,” he says. “They are an idealistic generation, so they like the idea of being on the edge of something new.”

The 65+ age group wants a traditional setting with cues from the past. “Older generations hold on to classic and traditional values, and they like a setting that reflects that, one that respects the classics,” says Furman.

The silent generation is also all about comfort. “The older generation is looking for a professional setting, but something that is comfortable for them. Comfortable seating and easy access, those are important to the older crowd,” says Ennis.


Can ECPs with patients from every generation blend these different aesthetic preferences? In a word: No.

“For years, people have tried to blend styles too much in spaces,” says Ennis. “If you try to appeal to too many groups and it changes your overall look of the space, then it won’t appeal to any of them.”

The best solution is to target your biggest demographic. “ECPs have to cater to their primary demographic, which for most, is Generation X and older, because that’s where all of the revenue comes from,” says Ennis.

His advice? “Create a professional, commercial space that would cater to the major demographic; then add smaller, specialized areas with displays or artifacts that speak to that age range and use signage that will attract their attention.”

The good news is that, despite their different preferences, each generation shares one thing: a desire to link to the past. “Every generation holds on to the past in some way,” says Furman.

“The newer, ‘contemporary’ design that we’re now creating can appeal to a cross section of people. It appeals to the young, but it won’t turn away the old. We do that specifically so that it touches a point in everyone’s consciousness.

“A ‘contemporary’—or rather ‘modern’ look—if well placed, will have an inherent value that reaches to the past, but also touches the present, and even the future.”

In the end, there is no cut-and-paste solution. What works for some won’t necessarily work for others, says Furman. “You can’t have it all. You have to decide whom you’re marketing to and what they like, and what’s popular in your area. There’s no one formula for success.” EB


There are some very cost-effective ways to spruce up your space without breaking the bank. Design experts Jan Ennis, president and CEO of Ennco Display Systems, and Cy Furman, founder of Magic Design/Visual Dynamics, offer these tips.

PAINT. Changing your wall colors is inexpensive yet impactful. But do your research before heading to the paint store. Color can change the mood of the space. Reds and oranges on the walls and lighter floors create quicker movement, so people may not want to stay as long. Blues and greens are more idealistic, and they soften the space to create a relaxed atmosphere.

LIGHTING. Lighting can make a store look dated. LEDs and incandescent lighting are popular today, as is color-corrective lighting, which brings out the true colors of the merchandise instead of masking them. Low lighting throughout the store with bright lighting around the displays creates a “moth to a flame” effect that attracts customers to the merchandise.

FLOORING. Flooring can also date your space. Commercial-use flooring made to look like wood or marble may be more expensive, but can withstand more wear and tear. Tiled carpeting is a bigger initial investment, but having the flexibility to replace only worn parts saves in the future.

FIXTURES. Your displays, which greatly help sell your merchandise, should reflect the here and now. You can’t sell high-fashion merchandise on low-fashion displays.