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Grand Expectations
By: Jackie Bartolotta

Does becoming a grandparent change your life?

Today, there are 70 million grandparents in the United States, and 11 million Americans welcome a grandchild each year.  Today's grandparent is quite different from generations past; they are active, online, youthful and open to new experiences.  They are anticipating this life stage with eagerness and open wallets.  This is particularly true when becoming a grandparent for the first time. A new joint research study conducted by Focalyst and Grandparents.com, "Meet the Grandparents," found that excitement around becoming a grandparent is undeniable, but that there are some differences in how this experience is handled whether becoming a grandparent for the first time or for "seasoned pros."

In reality, the grandparenting role goes beyond occasional visits – many of today's grandparents feel a deep responsibility to help out both their children and grandchildren.  Three-quarters of grandparents feel that their children can benefit from their guidance when raising their own children, and it is obvious that grandparents have a lot to offer, particularly as it relates to financial support. 

Financial support starts with shopping.  Grandparents are big spenders and are actively looking for things to buy their grandchildren.  First Timers are spending an average of about $1,900 and Seasoned Pros $1,500 on products related to baby leading up to and soon after their grandchild's birth. 

Beyond traditional spending, grandparents are making financial investments on behalf of their grandchildren. Financial wellbeing of the grandchild is an important concern overall, and even more so for First Timers.  Two-thirds of First Timers and half of Seasoned Pros say it is important to make financial investments for their grandchild, and there is a strong desire to contribute to the grandchild's college education.  In fact, they are exploring many different types of financial investments in which to make these contributions, from savings accounts to 529 plans to trusts

Grandparents today want to be prepared for anything and are buying lots of items to be equipped for baby in their own home, and not just with toys.  The recent trend of Boomers upsizing their homes and remodeling means that today's grandparents have lots of room to make their grandchild feel at home, and furniture, diapers, baby food and safety items are on the shopping list.

What is helping grandparents with making decisions about what to buy, where to go or how to invest?  The Internet!  Over 37 million grandparents are online --  a great way for them to find information to help understand their grandchildren's needs, find news and items to share with them, and is key to staying on touch when visits are infrequent.  Of course email is what grandparents are mostly using the Internet for, but we see that grandparents, particularly First Timers, are sharing photos, researching products, shopping online, planning travel, instant messaging and playing online games.

For every baby born, there may be four (or more) consumers that enter this life stage, representing an enormous and growing audience.   More than babysitting; the news of becoming a grandparent prompts a desire to learn more about what they can offer their grandchild, whether it be exploring education products or opportunities, financial investments, or places to go with their new grandchild.  And they are enjoying this stage of life - since having their first grandchild, the majority of grandparents say their lives have changed – for the better!
Market Intelligence, Focalyst (www.focalyst.com) is a leading source of information and insights about Baby Boomers and Mature consumers. For more information call 212.548.7270 or email Jackie.Bartolotta@focalyst.com.








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