Product Managers Realize That They Are Really Selling To Grandparents

by drjim on April 11, 2011

It Turns Out That We May All Be Selling Our Products To Grandparents…

It Turns Out That We May All Be Selling Our Products To Grandparents…

Who is the customer for your product? Maybe a better question is how old is your target customer? It turns out that they may be much older than any of us have realized – America’s grandparents are becoming the dominate consumer force (and this relates to business to business transactions also). Is your product ready?

Just The Facts Please – The Arrival Of The Grandparents

So how did the people that we’re selling our products to get so old all of a sudden? Well, it turns out that this has been going on for quite some time. Ever since 2000 the spending levels by grandparents has grown by a whopping 7.6% per year. This is almost double the annual overall consumer growth rate!

The web site Grandparents.com recently did a study of this group of U.S. consumers. They discovered that the group contains more than 70M members and that unlike the grandparents that came before them, they are both better educated and spend more.

This is a large group. The grandparent group is larger than either the Hispanic or African-American populations in the U.S.

How much do they spend you may be asking. Well, according to the study they are currently spending more that US$100B on entertainment alone. This includes everything from vehicles (boats and bikes) to gear (cameras and tents).

It’s not just entertainment that this group is spending on. They are also doing a lot of traveling. This is evidenced by the simple fact that they spend US$77B on all things travel related: tickets, hotels, food, etc.

Taken all together, the grandparent group is a huge purchasing group. They spend a total of US$2 Trillion every year on goods and services. Just to put this into perspective, that is 1/3 of overall U.S. consumer spending by just one group of consumers.

Ultimately how much the grandparents have to spend is determined by how much money they have. It appears as though they have a great deal. In houses that were lead by 55-64 year olds their average net worth was US$254,000. This is the highest value of any current age group.

What You Need To Do With Your Product To Sell To Grandparents

Not all products that we manage will be sold to grandparents. However, we need to understand that grandparents are probably somewhere there in the equation. Even if the initial purchasers of our products are not grandparents themselves, then there’s a good chance that they are serving grandparents using our products.

There are a number of different things that we can do that will make it easier to sell our products to this enormous group of consumers. One of the most important things to understand is that these customers don’t feel as old as they are. This means that you need to make sure that you don’t use words or images that convey the idea that they are old or infirm.

On top of doing this, you should make sure that your marketing efforts are doing the things that you should already be doing. This means that you need to make sure that the message that your product is conveying is honest. You want your potential customers to view your product as being authentic.

As always, you are going to want to show your customers the benefits of your product. The trick here however is that you are going to want to do this in a way that is ageless. If you can make sure that you are sending your marketing messages to the right people, then you’ll be able to successfully tap into the largest group of potential customers for your product that’s out there!

What All Of This Means To You

The people that we sell our products to have been gradually been becoming older. Now as a generation the people controlling the purse strings of 1/3 of consumer spending overall are a part of the grandparent generation.

Product managers need to realize that our customer base may have become older on us. We’re going to have to adjust how we market our products to appeal to this segment – and make sure to not upset them!

Much of what we should be doing as Product Managers should help us appeal to this customer demographic. If we are honest with our customers, focus our marketing efforts on our product’s benefits and stay away from calling our customers old then our products will be successful.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to make your marketing timeless?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

That there Internet is a powerful tool in the hands of your potential customers. You probably vary the price of your product over time – lowering it when you want to boost sales or when you have a new version that you are getting ready to introduce. Well guess what, your customers have figured out what you are doing and they are using the Internet to tell everyone else about it. What’s a product manager to do?

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