Market Focus: Grandparents
When you think of grandparents, you may conjure up images of gray-haired men and women living in retirement homes and giving their grandkids nickels to buy ice cream cones. Wake up! Today’s grandparents are baby boomers—the people who redefined every stage of life and are set to do the same with grandparenting.
A Grand Market
Estimates for the number of grandparents in the United States range from around 39 million to 80 million, depending on which survey you look at. About 4,000 people become grandparents every day, according to Judi Awsumb, executive vice president of GRAND Media, which publishes GRAND magazine. The typical grandparent is a baby boomer between the ages of 45 and 65 (though 65 is a bit beyond the baby boomer generation); the average age of a first-time grandparent is 47; and the average grandparent has six grandkids.
Grandparents are an affluent market. “Statistically, baby boomers have 77 percent of the nation’s wealth, and they will inherit more than any other previous generation,” says Awsumb. “The Depression-era parents they came from tended to be more conservative and to save.”
Today’s grandparents are redefining this stage of their lives. “They’re more involved with their grandchildren, and they seem to be enjoying it in a way previous generations have not, I think because they have more money and more time,” says Awsumb. In fact, grandparents spend a whopping $30 billion each year on their grandkids, and the amount a grandparent spends on a grandchild increases as the grandchild gets older, possibly because older grandkids are going to college, buying houses and doing other things that require a lot of money, points out Amy Goyer, national coordinator of the AARP Foundation’s Grandparenting Program.
It’s no surprise that grandparents are a great market for kids’ products. Many grandparents take care of their grandkids at least part of the time, so they purchase cribs, strollers and other childcare products so that the child’s parents don’t have to transport these items to grandma’s and grandpa’s house. And, according to Goyer, as of 2002 (the year in which the AARP’s last grandparents survey was published), 4.5 million kids were living with their grandparents.