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How Millennial Parents Are Already Influencing Brands

Mar 04 2015

New Parents On the Block: This is the second in a series of articles looking at Millennial parents’ behavior, growing influence, and marketing preferences.

A new generation of parents are on the block, and understanding how they’re approaching this role will be vital for anyone who wants to attract them. They’re already influencing products and marketing as brands adjust to their expectations. 

The era of Millennial parenting is about to begin. As we mentioned in our last Millennial parent post, 14% of Millennials 18-32-years-old are currently parents, with nearly 8,000 more taking on the title of mom and dad each day. Yes, this means that more Millennials will be looking at whole new industries and products for the first time—diapers, more household goods, toys, and more—but just because they are parents doesn’t mean they’ll buy like their parents did. This generation has proven they have their own unique approach to life’s major milestones, and they’re bringing their own set of expectations, values, and needs to parenthood. As we explored in our data deep-dive on Millennial parents, niche markets like alternative parenting methods are beginning to mainstream, and they’re choosing what elements of their own upbringing they want to emulate and what they want to leave behind. They are tech enhanced, creating communities, disregarding judgment, and writing their own rules for the modern age of parenthood.

To effectively sell kids’ products and content, understanding the new generation of parents is essential, and Millennials are becoming the influential parenting majority. The International Toy Fair gave us a sneak peek at the toy trends to watch for the next year, but one trend can’t be put on the shelf: Millennial parents are beginning to influence toy brands. Pre-school products are being designed with a new generation of parents in mind and being “tailored to their tastes.” These parents are “craving mobility” in their kids’ playthings.  As one toy maker told Fortune, “Millennial moms are completely different from Baby Boomer moms…Parents are on the go constantly.” That means toys that can be easily packed up and brought anywhere. Entertainment content also needs to move with them. “Proprietary Survey of Moms” recently found that Millennial parents and their children are accustomed to being “hyper connected, with on demand content available with the ‘swipe’ of a finger and a mobile device.” Millennial parents are also more likely to be living in urban areas than previous generations, so they’re looking for products that fit into their current, smaller homes. Big, bulky plastic playthings that stay in one place will likely give way to foldable, hide-able items and furniture that can be hidden, or that looks “more like home décor.”

Millennial-headed families are also majorly influencing kids’ content. Nostalgic series reboots don’t stop coming, as shows Millennials loved as kids are revived to bring their families to the screen. Netflix has already announced reboots of Magic School BusCare Bears, and Popples, and hopes that the nostalgic content will lead to “co-viewing” and garner them fans from multiple generations. Now they’re bringing back Inspector Gadget and Danger Mouse. The site will be streaming five new kids’ shows in an effort to reach more young viewers, and the inclusion of these already-loved characters could potentially please their parents as well. Inspector Gadget, which originally aired from 1983 to 1986 and got a movie in 1999, will have 26 new computer animated episodes premiering exclusively on Netflix in March. Netflix is certainly not the only entertainment brand using Millennials’ childhood memories to influence what their kids watch. The premiere of Disney’s Girl Meets World, the reboot of Millennial-favorite Boy Meets World, reportedly drew in 5.2 million viewers, and was the #1 series launch of 2014 among “major youth demographics.” It was also the most downloaded Disney Channel series preview on iTunes ever for the network. If that kind of success continues for other series revivals, we can expect that Millennial parents will keep seeing their old favorites brought back for their kids.

Their nutritional habits and expectations will absolutely be shifting the way that kids’ foods and menus are created, and marketed. According to a senior marketing director at Kraft, their new campaign emphasizing the amount of protein in each box of mac & cheese “stems from the misgivings of Millennial parents, who don’t think their children are eating enough protein.” This generation of parents grew up during the era that nutritional content was put under a microscope, healthful eating has become more mainstream, and food’s position has shifted in culture. They are more sensitive about what they consume themselves, so it’s a guarantee that they will be more sensitive about what they feed their kids. Brands like the Honest Company are finding ways to appeal to that sensitivity, and provide more organic, pure ingredients to meet their expectations.

We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of Millennial parents’ influence, and as more and more start to raise families, more brands and categories will begin to adjust design, ingredients, marketing, and more to appeal to them.   

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