By Karen Axelton
As consumers, the Baby Boomer generation has been a force to be reckoned with since they first hit the scene. Now that many of them are grandparents, their importance to U.S. small businesses hasn’t diminished. In fact, if you’re not marketing to grandparents, your small business is missing out on a potential gold mine, according to The MetLife Report on American Grandparents.
MetLife’s study found that the number of grandparents is growing, reaching more than 65 million this year–up from 40 million in 1980. Since most of those grandparents are Baby Boomers (aged 45 to 64 years old), there are some important differences you need to know about between these grandparents and prior generations.
Today’s Baby Boomer grandparents are typically still working full-time, are more likely to be college graduates than prior generations and are more likely to be affluent. One-fourth of U.S. grandparent-age households boast incomes over $90,000.
So the recession hasn’t hit grandparents too hard—but it has hit their children. Partly as a result, MetLife’s research shows, grandparents’ spending on their grandkids has surged by more than 70 percent since 1999, reaching a total of $7.6 billion in 2009. In another MetLife report, 63 percent of grandparents say they assist their grandchildren financially, and more than one-fourth have increased their assistance compared to past years as a result of the economy.
Grandparents are buying their grandkids everything from toys and clothes to travel and accessories. To help out struggling parents, more grandparents are also shelling out for necessities like baby food, diapers, school supplies and car insurance (for older grandkids). And more grandparents are opening their homes to their kids and grandkids: MetLife found the number of households with multiple generations under one roof has risen from 1999.
How do these figures affect your business? If you sell products or services for kids, keep in mind that parents may no longer be your only customer. Try targeting your products or services to grandparents as well. And don’t envision today’s grandparents as yesterday’s seniors. Grandparents today don’t think of themselves as old, so they appreciate marketing messages that don’t treat them that way.
Image by Flickr user Juhan Sonin (Creative Commons)Google+