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BizReport : Advertising archives : November 04, 2009

How to butter up "the sandwich generation"

There's a growing section of society in the U.S. today that marketers should be aware of. They are multi-generational caregivers who care for their elderly parents while bringing up their own young family. Because of their situation, "stuck in the middle" as it were, they have been dubbed "the sandwich generation".

by Helen Leggatt

sandwich generation.jpgOnline consumer insight company, Communispace, has released findings from its latest research that takes an in-depth look at the lifestyle and choices of the over 20 million Americans that find themselves, quite literally, sandwiched between the needs and wants of two generations.

This emerging "sandwich generation" doesn't have a specific age range. Americans aged between 20 and 60 could be in a caregiving situation. However, what they all have in common is the feeling of being overwhelmed and under-supported, found the research, and this is where marketers can look for opportunities to tune products, messaging and services towards this section of U.S. society.

According to the 17-page report (.pdf), "There is a huge unmet need for products and services that help care for aging parents now and in the future. While there are myriad offerings to help consumers plan for their own retirement and the care and education of their children, there are relatively few resources to prepare for the inevitable responsibility of caring for the aging population. Brands--even those not associated with serving the aged--can do much, much more to capitalize on the support and comfort they already provide, and to provide it in new ways."

But how do you approach "the sandwich generation"? According to the research, perfect smiling families and promises of financial security don't wash with them. They want realism mixed with reassurance with a dash of tradition and innovation. Extremes of fear-mongering or idealism are particularly repellant to them.

On the other hand, don't suck up to them, advises the research adding, "they're not heroes, they're just doing their job. Offer products and services that speak to caregivers' motivations: piece of mind, fulfillment of duty, and family togetherness."

Tags: advertising, consumer behavior, consumer targeting, demographics, marketing

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