As a branding agency focussed on making connections, Underscore takes a vested interest in real people and seeks new opportunities when it comes to the needs of end users. On our quest for knowledge, we encountered some rather interesting findings from design researchers in the field.

It may come as no surprise that the UK retail market has experienced some significant challenges in recent times. It’s unlikely that you or I have escaped a single day where the words ‘austerity’ or ‘spending cuts’ haven’t cropped up somewhere on our media travels. Yet perhaps what is surprising is a social shift that is driving a new market opportunity.

Joanna Brassett, Director and Founder of INTO, a research, design and innovation consultancy, has highlighted an unexpected transition that is occurring almost unnoticed. Whilst studying the way families interact and use products aimed at children, INTO discovered that, in place of parents who have had to return to work and/or find affordable means of childcare for their children, grandparents have become the prime users and purchasers of child related products.

Silver spender Grandfather Granddaughter

In her article, Joanna highlights that, “English grandmothers have more grandchildren than any other country in Europe, averaging 5 grandchildren per grandmother”. This means, as the primary child carers across the UK, grandparents are interacting and even buying kids’ products like never before. Formerly occasional carers, grandparents spend more frequent time pushing buggies, playing with toys and shopping for items to treat their grandkids.

“While it may be conceived that a large proportion of pensioner households have low incomes, ironically the retired account for the majority of wealthy Britons. The over 50s are the wealthiest and fastest growing group of consumers in the UK, and they are ready to spend their money on their grandchildren”.

Among the products of most interest are educational items, as well as clothing and toys. However, it goes without saying that, with a retirement age of 65+, the average ‘modern senior citizen’ is exposed to an extended life income whilst also being of a generation that has access to savvier technologies and the means to purchase them.

The article highlights that we should not just be considering these demographics, but exploring them as opportunities worth targeting. Social issues mean an increasingly ageing population with a more defined set of challenges: in this instance, new well-considered products for grandparents.

2015 has proven to be the rise of the silver spender, will 2016 follow?

For the full article please click here.