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Rosemary Gorman Headshot

Meet the Super Parents!

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The digital age has taught us all many valuable lessons - but maybe the best one is that when it comes to advertising and planning, we cannot rely on historic positioning and need to stay ahead of ever-shifting dynamics.

By and large, the advertising industry has keenly embraced the realities of social and digital media and mobile continues to challenge the way we approach communications. We no longer question why consumers 'like' brands on Facebook and have moved seamlessly on towards trying to put a value on those 'likes'.

But digital ingenuity aside, sometimes I wonder if we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in terms of our target audiences. For instance, how much notice is being taken of the huge changes now apparent in the demographics and economic make-up of the UK's population?

One in every five adults in the UK is a grandparent and in just six years, that figure will rise to one in three. This is a shocking enough statistic, but the even bigger issue is the redistribution of families and spending power.

For decades the advertising industry has been appealing to Britain's youth, encouraging them to become increasingly brand conscious. We live in a material world. Youth signifies beauty, vibrancy and power and it is easy to see why agencies have focused so assiduously on younger generations.

But the reality is today's young adults do not necessarily have the resources of previous generations - the party is not quite so lively. They face rising living costs including colossal further education fees and ambitious rents. The economic downturn of the last few years has dramatically shifted more and more multi-generation families back together under one roof. Up to 30% of all 20-34 year olds are still living at home and grandparents contributed £7bn of childcare in 2013.

The commercial team at Mail Newspapers http://www.mailconnected.co.uk is increasingly intrigued by the behaviour of baby-boomers who are sitting at the heart of increasingly dependent generations of their own family. We refer to them as 'Super Parents'.

These Super Parents are typically sitting on valuable assets and have enjoyed many decades of relative prosperity. Typically, they bought property when it was very affordable and watched it shoot up in value; they enjoyed relatively secure employment and generous final salary pension schemes.

In contrast, their children have not been so fortunate. Today's young adults are struggling with unprecedentedly high house-prices, low levels of youth employment and barely-there interest rates for savers meaning that it is almost impossible for them to get onto the property ladder. And this is leading to the re-grouping of the wider family unit.

For marketeers, these economic and demographic changes are hugely significant because they are resulting in a radical shift in influence. It is the Super Parents whom other family members go to for advice, financial support and direction - offering welcome guidance on a whole range of issues from financial products to property, from health and nutrition to education.

Super Parents have the time and to read and absorb information about products and services which enhances their knowledge. They have an unprecedented opportunity to be of real help to their families which is a huge motivator for them to learn more. And where our Super Parents are helping out financially, they also demand a say in purchasing decisions.

All of which puts them in a commanding position of influence and authority within their ever-growing households. Which begs the question - are Super Parents becoming the biggest opportunity for marketeers in the 21st Century? And if so, are we reaching them?