Marketing To The Sandwich Generation

The “sandwich generation” refers to people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children at the same time.

As the U.S. populations ages and evolves, this demographic is growing rapidly. According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. And the over-65 demographic is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Marketing Sandwich Generation

Even as they’re faced with obvious responsibilities, as a consumer demographic, this group has enormous clout. By and large, these Americans are responsible, well employed and have discretionary income. Most have household incomes above $100,000 a year.

That said, advertisers tasked with marketing to the sandwich generation can have a challenging job. Occupied with finding ways to care for aging parents and children, these folks are often taxed in both time and attention. Companies looking to reach these consumers need to speak sensitively to the nature of this double bind.

It’s not always easy for folks who often feel overwhelmed; it is the sandwich generation who most need to consider essential goods and services like life insurance, health care, and hospice care.

Unscrupulous marketers looking to make a quick buck need not apply. A study done by online consumer insight company Communispace found that scare tactics are a no-go, as are  Leave It To Beaver-esque portayals of perfect smiling families. The study found that consumers want realism, innovation, and a dash of reassurance.

So what companies are effectively speaking to the sandwich generation?

One great example is MasterCard, which recently partnered with the AARP to provide a sense of financial freedom with the AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard, which ensures that loved ones stay on a predetermined budget.

Walgreens is also helping aging seniors with a unique promotion. For the entire month of February, customers receive a free blood test and information to help fight heart disease. For every free test taken, Walgreens will contribute $1 to the American Heart Association. Their site also offers “care guides” for a variety of different medical issues. By helping consumers with straightforward and actionable advice, Walgreens is building up consumer trust in a market where it can make all the difference.

Life insurance is also hugely important for sandwich generationers. Not only do parents want to make sure their children are taken care of if they unexpectedly pass, but life insurance can ease the financial burden of their own parents passing. Prudential made that point eloquently with this commercial:

Marketing to the sandwich generation is also a uniquely local proposition. Particularly in later life, a tight-knit sense of community becomes more important than ever. Whether you run a mom-and-pop business or are a corporate giant like Walgreens, local engagement strategies are indispensable.

We’ve talked previously about why 2013 marks an era of local engagement for radio marketing and the deep emotional connections sonic branding can create. That makes radio the perfect medium for communicating with the sandwich generation locally to deliver vital information that they need.