July 20, 2013

A record number of 21.6 million Millennials are currently described by the U.S. Census as living at home, and they have become the fodder of late-night comedians. They are described as living in their parents’ basements, spending all their time on Facebook and wasting their days as the “boomerang generation.” The reality of the situation of adult children returning home is often much more positive than is portrayed in the media. A topic that has not been well explored is the opportunity to market to the parents of these young adults, especially their moms, who may be relishing having their children back for a while, knowing it is a time that will likely pass too soon.

This living arrangement provides brands and companies with an opportunity to have a new and different conversation with the moms of these adult children, and target them in a much more positive manner using the following strategies.

1. Rejoicing in renewed conversations. For many parents, when their children went to college or left the family nest, they lost the opportunity to engage in longer conversations -- to debate, laugh and share family stories. Moms often miss this informal time together, and want to regain this connection. Just as brands got on the bandwagon to emphasize the family dinner with parents of young children, a similar message can be made for parents and their returning offspring. Whether it is promoting the family meal or an evening spent with everyone on a device of their choice hunting for the best YouTube animal video, there is an opportunity for brands to share in the experience of informal family moments.

2. Parenting without rules. There is a certain freedom parents of Millennials have when their children return home. Parents are no longer the gatekeeper and the guardian of the curfew. This relationship when parents are not policing, and children are not rebelling gives rise to a much more amiable and friendly environment that can be portrayed in many ways by brands. It can be as simple as young adults coming home late at night disengaging a house alarm to parents and offspring having a beer while grilling. Brands can capitalize on the relationship of “adult to adult” living.

3. Modeling the multi-generational family. With more and more families engaging in multi-generational living, this is a way to have a trial run at it. Parents and children engage without a longer expectation than the Millennial “moving out when I find a job.” Moms also know that the time may come when they are the ones invited into their children’s homes as they age. Brands, such as insurance companies, can promote that this is a time of togetherness and model how multi-generational families can successfully enjoy their time together as a recurrent cycle.

4.Emphasizing the positive roles of Millennials. Adult children living at home want to feel useful and productive. From doing the grocery shopping, helping with meals and clean-up to upgrading their parents’ digital footprint, Millennials are looking for ways to show appreciation. Brands can capitalize on this by showing parents and their Millennial children engaging in DIY projects, shopping online/in-store for electronics or working together to upgrade their smartphone or digital audio systems. The emphasis is on showcasing brands that make life better for the family.

5.Promoting shared charities. Moms often increase their work with charities when their children leave the home. In a similar manner, Millennials are known for finding ways to donate their time for a variety of charities and non-profits. As adult children come home, this provides a new opportunity for parents and their offspring to partner on charities and their networking capabilities. Brands, especially non-profits, can promote family activities and increase their participant base by showcasing this mutual passion for serving others.

The negative connotation of life when parents and adult children live together has gained urban myth status. Brands may benefit from capitalizing on the positive aspects of the relationship and promoting it since the multi-generational trend will likely be a choice many families not only choose to make, but find as a successful relationship. Moms are often the ones in the forefront of designing these new relationships and will appreciate brands that relate to their new family realities.

By Carol Banks Setter
Carol Banks Setter is the National Director of Insights and Innovations at Band Digital. She enjoys leveraging the ever-evolving nature of the digital platform and using multi-channel engagement to connect with audiences.
Courtesy of MediaPost

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