retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

So here's the conversation you never want to have with your 18-year-old daughter.

We recently went up to visit her during her college parents weekend, and at dinner one night, she casually drops a little comment about how she thinks it might be kind of interesting to get a tattoo.

Now, I'm not sure she really wants one. I think it is entirely possible that, like a lot of kids, she just sort of wanted to see how we'd react. Like a trial balloon. Just in case.

Well, Mrs. Content Guy - who always has said that she can live with anything the kids want to do in terms of piercings, because they are not permanent, but is less than thrilled with tattoos - immediately goes on her new iPhone 5 to do a little research.

And go figure. It ends up that 14 percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo. That 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have at least one tattoo, and that 40 percent of those between the ages of 26 and 40 have at least one tattoo.

Five percent of Americans, apparently, have covered one up one tattoo with another tattoo. Thirty-two percent of Americans with tattoos say they are "addicted to ink," and just 17 percent of people with tattoos say that have some regret about getting one.

And here's the business side to the tattoo industry that really amazed me - that 45 million Americans have one tattoo, have gotten it at one of the more than 21,000 tattoo parlors in the United States, spending $1.65 billion a year getting tattoos.

Yes, $1.65 billion. These numbers, by the way, come courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

I was floored by these numbers. Like a lot of people my age, I suspect, when I see someone with tattoos, I sort of wince a little bit, like they've somehow desecrated their bodies in a way that will be very difficult to erase.

But one person's desecration is another person's art. And the simple reality seems to be that tattoos have gone mainstream ... and this is yet another illustration of the generational differences that businesses have to take into account when hiring and dealing with employees.

In so many ways, what many of us would think of as being out-of-the-mainstream attitudes simply are not so out-of-the-mainstream anymore. This has to do with tattoos and piercings, but it may also have to do with attitudes toward technology, gender roles, work-life balance, etc...

And sure, these potential and existing employees have to understand that they may have to adjust some if they want jobs. But we have to meet them halfway. Maybe even more than halfway. Because in the end, we may need them more than they need us, especially if the economy improves and it becomes a seller's market for labor.

Having looked at all these statistics, Mrs. Content Guy was consistent about her objections to our daughter getting a tattoo ... though she acknowledged that the world has changed, and that she was reflective of a shifting reality. In other words, she was precisely as measured and reasonable as I would have expected her to be.

Me? I told my daughter that if she got a tattoo I'd sell the family car to which she currently has exclusive access. No ifs, ands, or buts. And I meant it.

I hope she was just floating a trial balloon.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: