What might the next great marketing opportunity be? Take a look at couples from two demographic groups and their relationship with a third group.
The first couple are Millennials. They’re in their late 30s — both work, have a good income but a big mortgage, along with home maintenance, car payments, tuition, child care and related expenses. These are the Parents.
The second couple are Boomers. They’re in their late 50s or early 60s — at least one member of the couple is retired, their home is paid off, and they have money in the bank and time to spend it. These are the Grandparents.
The Parents and Grandparents have a relationship with a third group of Gen Z and Post-Z’ers (children up to age 17 in 2019). These are the Kids (aka Grandkids).
Let’s eavesdrop on the conversations of the parents and grandparents while they shop for a birthday gift for one of the children.
“So, what’s our daughter want for her birthday?” asks Dad. “Oh, she gave me a list,” says Mom. “We can’t afford all of that,” says Dad. “I’ll just order her top choice from the list,” says Mom. She needs some other things for school.”
“What does our 6-year old granddaughter want for her birthday?” asks Granddad. “She gave me a pretty big list,” says Grandma. “OK, that makes it easy,” says Granddad. “Why don’t you order that stuff and add something something she didn’t list so she gets a surprise, too?” “That’s what I was planning to do,” says Grandma. “But I’m also getting her brother something so he doesn’t feel left out.”
That’s a typical conversation. I can vouch for it because I’m a grandparent and I have those types of conversations with my spouse. And I can tell you, the next great marketing opportunity is not millennials, it’s grandparents.
Until you have a grandchild, you can’t understand it — but trust me, your outlook on everything changes. One of many examples: your priorities for purchasing consumer products and services. As an empty-nester, you were always open to considering your next car, vacation, road bike or sporting event. But as a grandparent, you never walk into a store or go on Amazon without automatically wondering what your grandkids might want or need from either source.
You’re not alone. You’re one of the 70 million grandparents in the U.S. who, according to the U.S. Census, spend $52 billion a year on their grandchildren. What accounts for this? Part of it is the special relationships grandchildren and grandparents tend to form.
Talya Stone, a family and parenting writer for LoveToKnow.com, says “In the eyes of your grandchildren, you are nothing short of exalted. You tell all the best stories, give the best treats and the best hugs.”
Also, life expectancy continues to rise, and people with close family ties live the longest. According a study reported in Parent Magazine, grandparents who care for grandchildren live healthier lives too.
Lastly, U.S. grandparents are often financially able to care for themselves while supporting and even providing those special extra gifts that grandchildren love. Today’s grandparents aren’t necessarily following their grandparents’ example of work, retire, move away. C&R Research reports that today’s grandparents are healthy and active. Sixty percent still hold full- or part-time jobs. And best of all, they account for $2 trillion in annual spending.
So how can smart marketers seize upon this trend? Find and develop ways for grandparents to invest in and engage with their grandchildren. Perhaps grandparent/grandchild vacations; special activities and dual memberships to events, movie or theatre clubs; hobby or art classes, lessons, adventures, clothing, etc.
Take advantage of this opportunity. Let the kids and grandparents enjoy what you offer…then maybe you’ll be able to get a few gifts for yourself too.