Toys in the Tune of Fun
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August 2003 | Vol. II - No. 8

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Grandparents Offer an Expanding Market Niche

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.

Grandparent Stats

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.

Phil Goodman

"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 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:, AARP, American Demographics, NDP Group, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Travel Industry Association of America and the Roper Organization.


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