Move over Mom and Dad, grandparents have moved up to become an increasingly
important influence on marketing efforts in the toy industry.
"Grandparents today possess more discretionary dollars than ever
before and they are more able and willing now to spend on those they love,"
said Jesse Slome, president of Sales Creators Inc. and
co-founder of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.
Recent demographic research recognizes grandparents as big spenders when
it comes to pleasing their grandchildren. Market research heavyweights
such as AARP, the American Demographics organization, NPD Group and others
have all gathered market information that paints the grandparent market
as a prime advertising target within the industry.
As a market group, grandparents now spend more than $30 billion a year
on their grandkids -- twice the amount spent 10 years ago. Grandparents
make up an estimated 17 percent of all toy sales in the U.S., with market
data showing the 55-64 age group spending more per capita on toys than
the 25-44 age group.
In 1996, the first 77 million baby boomers turned 50, according to a
report in the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.
"Boomers were raised by their parents to be seen and not heard,"
said Phil Goodman, founder of the Boomer Marketing & Research
Center in San Diego. "But they [Boomers] are going to be
helping their grandchildren to be seen, heard and featured.”
One-third of American adults are grandparents, totaling 70 million. More
than six percent of all children in the U.S. are growing up in homes where
grandparents are the primary caregivers, a number that has risen 30 percent
since 1990. More and more, today's grandparents are buying toys that they
can enjoy with their grandchildren.
How to Reach This Market
Slome theorizes that "grandparenting is not a state of mind, but
a state of heart," and products that are educationally and culturally
wholesome seem to speak to the senior market. Research has found that
grandparents attend at least one dance and one music performance per year,
and cultural awareness and appreciation of the arts are keys to tapping
into the grandparent market.
It is important to remember not to bunch all boomers and older seniors
together when marketing and using certain themes, according to a report
by Promoworksnow.com in 2000. While many grandparents
of the baby boom generation hold the Woodstock culture they grew up with
to be sacred, others may have more conservative values.
"Keeping products intelligent, affordable and fresh is the best
ingredient for marketing toys to the grandparent market," said Slome.
"We are more in-tune with what kids enjoy than most might think."
**Additional research for this article provided by:
museummarketingtips.com, AARP, American Demographics, NDP Group, Bureau
of Labor Statistics, Travel Industry Association of America and the Roper