Huge Demographic Shifts Explained and Quantified for Decision Makers

Demographics determine the direction of your business. Demographic trends can be overwhelming, misleading, confusing, conflicting, and difficult to predict. Not anymore.

John Burns and Chris Porter wrote this book to help make demographic trends easier to understand, quantify, and anticipate. Readers of this book will have a huge competitive advantage because they will be making decisions with facts, and they will be better able to adjust their strategies when unanticipated events shift prevailing trends. Know the facts, and learn to:

  • plan your business better;
  • support your decisions with facts; and
  • clarify the demographic confusion using the groupings and frameworks used in this book.      

John Burns, Chris Porter, and their team support everything with more than 100 easy-to-read charts and plenty of facts. Those interested in change in America should read this book right away.


Big Shifts Ahead featured in Times Square, New York City.

Big Shifts Ahead featured in Times Square, New York City.

Our youngest reader, Finley Porter, supporting her dad (co-author Chris Porter), on launch day.

Our youngest reader, Finley Porter, supporting her dad (co-author Chris Porter), on launch day.


I applaud John Burns and Chris Porter’s bold challenge to the conventional wisdom on demographics. Their analysis provides valuable insights for any marketer working to unlock value for their customers. For those who read carefully, there’s excellent nuggets on how to strategically position business for growth.
— Deborah Wahl, Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald's USA
Big Shifts Ahead is aptly titled. It provides a valuable service in categorizing our population more in line with how we think about ourselves. A valuable and interesting read for both business planners and anyone interested in thinking about who Americans are.
— Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae
Nobody knows housing like John Burns, and now he offers the demographics which underlie his long term forecasts. This data has implication for every business, as he clearly demonstrates. This is one of the best books you can read on demographics and consumer spending.
— John Mauldin, Multi New York Times Bestselling Author and Writer of the online newsletter, Thoughts from the Frontline
John Burns and Chris Porter make a phenomenal case for how demographics trends influence long-term societal behavior. Airbnb has learned that, when it comes to housing and travel, we’re moving from detached dwellings to sharing societies, that create both better efficiency and personal connections.
— Chip Conley, Bestselling Author and Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy of Airbnb
Really great way to break down the generations. You may have a game changer on your hands! How cool would that be!
— Bruce Norris, President of The Norris Group and host of the award-winning series, "I Survived Real Estate"
It’s a great book. It gives you a detailed journey through the demographics in our market and what/where the demand will come from. There were a number of great takeaways for me. It gave me the sense that we may have a longer run than I would have forecast.
— Adrian Foley, President and COO at Brookfield Residential
From the impact of immigration, to women in the workforce, to the coming boom in household formation, John Burns and Chris Porter masterfully use graphs and demographic data to illustrate many of the past and future trends.
— Bill McBride, blogger at www.CalculatedRiskBlog.com (named #4 best financial blog by Time.com)
The single most important work on forecasting consumer behavior in a generation.
— Bill McLoughlin, Chief Content Officer at Furniture Today
John Burns and Chris Porter’s Big Shifts Ahead is a very readable presentation of how demographic trends influence the demand for many kinds of goods and services. It should be a must read for individuals making long term Real Estate investment decisions.
— Mark Kroll, Managing Director at Sares-Regis Group
Fantastic read, engaging, relatable and a ‘could not put it down’ experience. This well-thought out decade-born approach now provides the backdrop for key business decisions we make every day. [They] have done outstanding work to more clearly capture and disentangle what was a confusing, conflicting, vague and overlapping conventional demographic model.
— Caroline Simmel, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Edward Andrews Homes
It has become a great reference for me in talking on a macro level with investors.
— Eric Wood, Chairman at Nest Homes
Best book I’ve read in 10 years.
— Tony Hallada, Managing Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC
This book is fascinating.
— Jim Blasingame, Creator and host of The Small Business Advocate Radio Show
Congratulations on an amazing piece of work! I can’t say enough about the importance of reading and interpreting your findings and thoughts when it comes to housing and what motivates/affects each demographic decade of consumers.

During our careers and very infrequently, there will be a book that has changed, energized, engaged and promoted new thinking. I truly believe your efforts and those of Chris Porter are truly industry changing in viewing and understanding demographic cohorts. I find it fascinating and a compelling read. As Seth Godin would put it, I am sneezing it to everyone I believe would receive value from its content.
— Nick Lehnert, Executive Director of Design Strategies at KTGY
I have been running an economic and real estate consulting firm for over 30 years. So, we are always looking at demographics and related information. John’s book is the best I’ve seen related to age demographics and their impact on housing. Usually, we have to search many sources to get the type of information he has compiled in one place.

In addition, his approach of looking at different age cohorts by 10 year increments instead of the usual 20 or so year groupings is clever. It gives one a much better perspective on things since someone born, say in 1982, will have a different perspective because of different life experiences than someone born in 2000. I highly recommend the book.
— Elliot Pollack, CEO at Elliott D. Pollack & Company
Burns and Porter significantly redefine the notion of demographics in a way that will allow builders and developers to sharpen WHO they are targeting as buyers and HOW to reach and resonate with that buying cohort.
— Steve Friedman, Former Home Building National Director of Ernst & Young
I really enjoyed your book. I ended up buying eleven more copies and giving them to folks at work, friends and my kids.
— Ken Ryan, COO of Van Metre Companies
[Big Shifts Ahead] lives up to the title, describing demographic shifts and interpreting what they mean for the future of business…. the authors do a couple of things that make their analysis more consumable and actionable than other writing on demographics I’ve consumed in the past.
— Meg White, Managing Editor of REALTOR Magazine
Housing guru John Burns and his partner Chris Porter offer definitive intelligence into housing business challenges and opportunities that come of applying people and household patterns to the investment of money, land, talent, materials, and designs, and labor in residential real estate and construction.
— John McManus, Editorial Director at Builder Online/Magazine
They see hidden patterns that others don’t fathom. Part of their genius is to look at vast amounts of data, find the connections and reveal big picture concepts that contradict common wisdom in simple and easy to understand terms. “Big Shifts Ahead” is an amazing book. From the impact of immigration to the coming boom in household formation by millennials, Burns and Porter masterfully point to the future demographic trends that will drive business in the 21st century. Burns and Porter are the John Naisbitt (Megatrends) and Alvin Toffler (Future Shock) of housing forecasting. If you’re a new home builder, a Realtor, real estate investor or developer, “Big Shifts Ahead” is a must read.
— Octavio Nuiry, Managing Editor at ATTOM Data Solutions (Book review featured in ATTOM Data Solution’s monthly newsletter, the Housing News Report)

Big Shifts Ahead: Demographic Clarity for Businesses has been covered/featured by the following:

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Three New Frameworks

Huge demographic shifts, driven by new technologies, government policies, economic circumstances, and social shifts are disrupting business models all over the United States. Business executives know that their customers are changing, but have a difficult time quantifying and predicting the changes. John Burns and Chris Porter developed 3 new frameworks to make trends easier to identify and analyze. Each framework brings clarity to the overwhelming volume of data and anecdotes that leave so many confused.

Framework #1
Usable Generational Definitions

John Burns and Chris Porter redefine the generations by decade born, making demographic shifts easier to understand and quantify.

FRAMEWORK #2
Four Big Influencers


John and Chris identified the Four Big Influencers that explain why those born in different decades behave so differently. These Four Big Influencers will continue to shift behaviors for years to come.

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Framework #3
Seven Biggest Opportunities

Burns and Porter devote a chapter to each of the seven biggest opportunities, forecast the future of each, and provide a framework to shift strategy when unexpected changes occur.

A Message From the Authors

John Burns and Chris Porter

We wrote Big Shifts Ahead primarily for ourselves. As consultants to the construction and investment industries, we need to understand the demographic shifts transforming the country. We also need to communicate the trends to our clients in a way that makes the information digestible and usable for decision making. In this book, we pulled an overwhelming amount of information together for those who need to make decisions.

Decision makers require simplification, backed by supportable facts. Big Shifts Ahead offers both.