Grandparents step to the head of the class

Articles
April 29, 2009

Grandparents step to the head of the class

With the likes of Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart and Tina Turner still filling arenas, is it any wonder that brand marketers are finally getting the message: 60 is the new 40. Baby boomers have no problem believing this concept; they’re often the first to dance at their concert seats (though their hips move a little slower these days). In real life, they wield considerable buying clout in their roles as grandparents, heads of households with grown children, or empty nesters. They number 78 million, and they account for 58% of all CPG shopping trips and 60% of all CPG shopping dollars in the United States, according to a Unilever report, Boomer Shoppers Today and Tomorrow: Following the Money. Indeed, Boomer households account for the majority of beer (59.7%), carbonated beverages (58.9%), and candy (54.2%) sales, all categories associated with younger consumers, reported The New York Times, which cited a Nielsen-Hallmark Channels study. Especially in the recession, marketers are looking to tap the budgets of Boomers, who are likelier to be mortgage-free, debt-light, and feeling freer to spend a bit compared with the unemployed and the job-jittered. Why not? A new study from grandparents.com, The Grandparent Economy, is rich in insights. One nugget that CPG brands and retailers could mine: “Grandparent spending on grandchildren has grown an average of 7.6% a year since 2000.”

With the likes of Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart and Tina Turner still filling arenas, is it any wonder that brand marketers are finally getting the message: 60 is the new 40.

Baby boomers have no problem believing this concept; they’re often the first to dance at their concert seats (though their hips move a little slower these days). In real life, they wield considerable buying clout in their roles as grandparents, heads of households with grown children, or empty nesters.

They number 78 million, and they account for 58% of all CPG shopping trips and 60% of all CPG shopping dollars in the United States, according to a Unilever report, Boomer Shoppers Today and Tomorrow:  Following the Money.

Indeed, Boomer households account for the majority of beer (59.7%), carbonated beverages (58.9%), and candy (54.2%) sales, all categories associated with younger consumers, reported The New York Times, which cited a Nielsen-Hallmark Channels study.

Especially in the recession, marketers are looking to tap the budgets of Boomers, who are likelier to be mortgage-free, debt-light, and feeling freer to spend a bit compared with the unemployed and the job-jittered. Why not? A new study from grandparents.com, The Grandparent Economy, is rich in insights. One nugget that CPG brands and retailers could mine: “Grandparent spending on grandchildren has grown an average of 7.6% a year since 2000.”

One beneficiary is web merchant ebeanstalk.com, a seller of children’s learning toys, which told the Times 40% of their customers are older, primarily grandparents.

This example tells us at SupermarketGuru.com that brand makers from Procter & Gamble to Kraft Foods to smaller enterprises still need to learn much more about the value concepts, buying practices and special purchase triggers of grandparents.  They may well be shopping less in brick-and-mortar stores and more in virtual stores (they’ve learned to avoid hassles), and it will be incumbent on the trade to figure out the best ways to romance their sales.

To turn them on, we believe it is essential to go beyond marketing campaigns that feature older actors. We believe that engaging older consumers within online communities, and creating new ways to satisfy them at the shelf (healthier formulas, packages that are easier to read and open) will generate a strong return on investment.