Grandparents Are A Growing Audience For The Toy Market

September 5, 2019 Sarah Cavill


Visiting the new grandbaby with a carful of toys then taking older grandkids to their favorite toy stores to pick out something special is a rite of passage for many grandparents. Grandparents indulge their grandkids, and marketers must understand what a significant portion of the toy-buying market Nanny and Pop Pop are, both in-store and online.

“Grandparents have been indulging their grandkids for ‘eons’ with stories, attention, special meals and experiences,” according to Amy Goyer, AARP’s family and caregiving expert in an MarketWatch article written last year. “That lavishing is ‘their role, it’s not a parent’s role, and that’s part of the joy.’”

Notable Stats About Grandma And Grandpa’s Toy Buying Habit

  • 86% of grandparents spend money on gifts for their grandkids.
  • Grandparents average annual spending on grandchildren is more than $2,500, with $805 spent on gifts.
  • Of the $28 billion spent on toys annually, grandparents spend $7 billion.
  • Online shopping is growing 2x faster for grandparents than any other audience segment.
  • Grandparents spend 3.5x more per toy when they purchase online vs. shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

Toy Marketing Outreach Targeting Grandparents Should Be Multichannel And Include Out-Of-Home Fun

Toy Marketing Outreach Targeting Grandparents

Grandparents are taking to the online market very well, but the older generation is still interested in in-store experiences they can share with their grandchildren. In order to target grandparent toy buyers, marketers and retailers need to understand what grandparents want and, as with all market segments, not use “one size fits all” approaches. Roger Bildsten, former board member of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), shared some tips on properly targeting grandparents:

  1. Recognize grandparents as toy buyers.
  2. Understand not all grandparent toy buyers fit the same consumer profile.
  3. Have a strategy to engage each segment of grandparent toy buyers.
  4. Realize that you need grandparent toy buyers to boost your sales, and they need you to understand what toys are best to purchase for their grandchildren.

Small toy retailers have found success with discounts, events, product suggestions and memberships. Grandparents Day, this year held on September 8th, is an ideal time to host events, as former toy giant Toys R Us used to do.

Email Is Effective When Marketing Toys To Grandparents

Marketing Toys To Grandparents

Grandparents are online, with 87% of young Baby Boomers considered “internet users” and three-quarters using smartphones. The young Baby Boomer generation was the early adopters of email, and email is still an effective channel to reach this audience. Particularly during the holidays, email campaigns can include guides like “Top Gifts Grandchildren Want This Holiday Season,” with clear calls to action and landing pages offering grandparents the toy-buying information they are likely seeking.

When targeting any segmented audience, it’s important for marketers not to approach the task monolithically. For instance, more than 21 million users over 65 are on Facebook, so a multichannel campaign from toy manufacturers and retailers should include some social media, but clearly social media isn’t where all the attention should be focused. Grandparents are less likely to seamlessly shop directly from social platforms like younger consumers. Instead, a successful toy marketing campaign to grandparents should include respecting the grandparent audience by matching their preferred shopping methods with properly implemented digital marketing that includes helpful content to support their toy buying decisions.

Looking For New Ways To Connect With Niche Audiences?

Digital Media Solutions® can help. Our people-based performance marketing solutions can place compelling messages in front of your target audience at just the right time for them to take action. Our custom subscriber-building campaigns help brands generate first-party data that can be used regularly to engage audiences – like grandparents who want to purchase toys for their grandchildren – with helpful and timely content delivered via email.

Contact DMS

About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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