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Multi-generational Families Spend More, Feel Less Represented

Posted: November 12, 2013

In recent years it’s become clear that the word “family” doesn’t have to mean a mother, father and 2.5 children. Some families are multi-generational where grandparents have a bigger role in raising their grandchildren, or include two same sex parents, and these new families translate to big bucks for retailers and marketers. New research from Mintel finds that multi-generational families are more likely than all parents surveyed to say they have increased spending on their kids in each of the categories considered, but half (50%) wish families like theirs were better represented in TV and print ads.

Sixty percent of multi-generational parents are spending more on groceries for children this year compared to last and 51% are doling out more cash for clothing and accessories. Meanwhile, 43% increased their spending on footwear for children this year and 40% are spending more for personal care products.

“As more Americans raise children in multi-generational households, they are pushing the envelope on what it means to be a family and encouraging product and service providers to reconsider not only how they market to parents and families, but to whom,” says Gretchen Grabowski, travel and leisure analyst at Mintel. “Brands that feature non-traditional families in their ads and programs are the most likely to show they acknowledge—and embrace—the changing scope of family, and should consider their needs in any type of product or service promotions, especially considering their comparative spending power.”

What’s more, 35% of multi-generational households agree that seeing families like theirs in in advertisements encourages them to buy products, compared to 29% of all parents surveyed.

“This opens the door for marketers to target multi-generational families, and perhaps specifically grandparents that may have a more pronounced role in raising (and spending money on) their grandchildren,” adds Grabowski. “Marketing efforts to include non-traditional families in advertising resonate with these demographics. Brands that do the most to acknowledge varied household settings are the ones that are going to get ahead.”

In addition to groceries and clothing, 58% of multi-generational parents say they sometimes spend more than they should on non-essential items for their children and 33% agree that they are willing to spend more on their children if it means keeping up to date with the latest trends.