In my last blog post I shared some statistics about how many things the Boomer woman is paying for her adult children – including the shocking statistic that 59% of them not only pay their children’s cell phone bills, but are continuing to do so after those children get jobs, get married, and even after they turn 30. (The conversation among VibrantNation.com members reacting to this news is interesting in and of itself.)
But even when what we call “Graduate” Moms (women whose millennial children have graduated from high school and/or college) aren’t paying their children’s expenses directly, they are influencing their purchase decisions – far more heavily than most marketers believe.
Consistent with the stereotype that aging consumers stick with their lifelong brand loyalties and adopt new trends (if at all) only at the suggestion of their hipster offspring, we now know that influence is more often working the other way around, and that many Millennial 20-somethings make purchase decisions (big and small) only after consulting their Boomer mom.
What is the “Graduate” Mom Influencing?
It wasn’t a Boomer mother but a Millennial daughter who first explained this phenomenon to me. At a conference this spring a millennial blogger told marketers just how to get her business: “If you want to market to me, market to my Boomer mom.”
All marketers work from dated stereotypes, one of which is that a generation gap separates Moms and their adult children, who would die before asking their mothers what to buy. That generation gap has arguably disappeared but marketers have not yet noticed that 20-womething daughters and their 50-something mothers are both proud to be each other’s best friend.
Like any best friend, the Boomer mom is heavily influencing her adult children’s purchase decisions:
- 42% say their adult children ask for advice about financial services
- 40% report giving their child advice about insurance
- 39% say their adult children ask them for advice about cars
- 34% give their adult children advice about food and recipes. If these daughters have a question in the supermarket about which brand to buy, they pull out their phones to call Mom.
- 31% of adult children ask their mothers for advice when they buy appliances. Why not listen to the expert you trust because she has spent 30 years as an active consumer in this space?
- 18% ask for cleaning and laundry advice.
- And 14% even ask their Boomer moms for advice about technology!
(For more information about our survey results, click here.)
What Can You Engage this Influence Engine
If this “Graduate” Mom is influencing so many of her adult children’s purchases, brands and service providers need to earn her loyalty. These women are continuing to study, make their own purchases – and are willing to change their own brand loyalties – in all of these categories. The Boomer Mom is not only a more important customer in these categories; she is a far more influential referral in them, too.
Her children aren’t asking for advice about categories where their own expertise (like strollers) or preferences (like clothes) are more relevant. But they are asking for advice where the Boomer woman’s experience and active research makes her an up-to-date expert. And then they’re shopping.
If even her adult child is willing to call the Graduate Mom her best friend, why aren’t you?