Table of Contents



1: Conclusions

2: Generations by Decade

3: The 4 Big Influencers


4: Rise of the Working Woman

5: A Wave of Affluent Immigrants

6: Retiree Explosion Underway

7: Finally Leaving the Nest


8: Renting in the Sharing Economy

9: Heading South in Droves

10: A New Surban™ Way of Life

Appendix 1: Neighborhood Classifications

Appendix 2: More Forecast Tables

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Here's what you can expect to find in the book:


100+ Easy-to-Read Charts

Burns and Porter support all of their findings with 100+ color charts that are information rich and easy-to-read. Additional supplemental charts are available to book purchasers, using a code in the book.


New Generational Definitions

John Burns and Chris Porter redefine the generations by decade born, grouping people by age and life stage. Each generation born in the 1950s and later is 40 to 44 million in size, although the life experiences and foreign-born composition of each vary dramatically. Burns and Porter give each generation a name to reflect the shift in society that they led.


The 4-5-6 Rule

Four Big Influencers explain why those born in different decades behave so differently, and help explain the big shifts ahead:

  1. New Technologies
  2. Changing Government Policies
  3. Economic Growth
  4. Shifts in Societal Acceptability

These Four Big Influencers will continue to impact society, shifting trends and creating opportunities and challenges for business leaders who capitalize on the changes. Burns and Porter analyzed the lives of each generation, grouping them into 5 Main Life Stages: childhood, early career, family formation, late career, and retirement. By studying the 4 Big Influencers and their impact on each life stage, Burns and Porter learned that this framework helps answer the 6 Key Consumer Questions most executives ask when making decisions for their business.


The Seven Biggest Demographic 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.

  1. Working Women
  2. Affluent Immigrants
  3. Workaholic Retirees
  4. Delayed Young Adults
  5. The Sharing Economy
  6. Southern Growth
  7. Urban Life Moving to the Suburbs

Download the Introduction of Big Shifts Ahead

In the News

The content from Big Shifts Ahead: Demographic Clarity for Businesses has been covered in the following respected business news and trade media outlets.

Millennials will be renting for a lot longer

Published September 2016


The Rise, the Fall, and the Trend of U.S. Housing

Published July 2016

Praise for Big Shifts Ahead

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.
— Deborah Wahl, Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds USA
John Burns and Chris Porter make a phenomenal case for how demographics trends influence long-term societal behavior.
— Chip Conley, Bestselling Author and Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy of Airbnb
Big Shifts Ahead is aptly titled. 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
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 masterfully use graphs and demographic data to illustrate many of the past and future trends.
— Bill McBride, blogger at (named #4 best financial blog by
Really great way to break down the generations. You may have a game changer on your hands!
— Bruce Norris, President of The Norris Group and host of the award-winning series, "I Survived Real Estate"
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 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.
— 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
I truly believe your efforts and those of Chris Porter are truly industry changing in viewing and understanding demographic cohorts.
— Nick Lehnert, Executive Director of Design Strategies at KTGY
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. I highly recommend the book.
— Elliot Pollack, CEO at Elliott D. Pollack & Company
It’s a great book. There were a number of great takeaways for me.
— Adrian Foley, President and COO at Brookfield Residential
Burns and Porter significantly redifine the notion of demographics in a way that will allow executives 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 at 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.
— Meg White, Managing Editor of REALTOR Magazine
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.
— Octavio Nuiry, Managing Editor at ATTOM Data Solutions (Book review featured in ATTOM Data Solution’s monthly newsletter, the Housing News Report)
It’s great to read data like this and to see how easiy it can be to digest the demographics information as it’s presented. Our leadership team will read the book as a book study. We will purchase books for our students taking economics and psychology.
— Jan Van Blarcum, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of The Einstein School