Thursday, October 8, 2009

Parents' Influence!

I'm going to throw something out there. I've been "noodling."

There's been a lot written about marketing to various generations and how kids influence their parents' purchases. As a parent of Gen Yers, let me tell you, we parents influence our kids' purchases!

I'll back up. Way back before Gap Kids, 1980ish, my husband was a Boys' buyer at Macy's California. He convinced a couple of outerwear vendors to make the famous "members only" jacket in boys sizes 8-20, well, they blew out the door. Those little boys didn't like the "Little Lord Font Leroy" peter panned collared stuff." I'm exaggerating a tad, but not much. They wanted to look cool, so when Mom took'em shopping,they'd beg and plead for 'members only' and... you know the rest. Well, that kind of thinking evolved and developed into many different businesses, by many different people. Those little darlings influenced our purchases. Fast forward: Now that our kids are older and the price tags for things they want has escalated exponentially AND they don't like to part with their own dough, our kids turn to us for our help and advice on things.

These kids are very knowledgeable and opinionated about electronic purchases, so they tend to take the reins there, but when it comes to buying a bed, or furniture, or housewares, or a suit, or a car... that's where Mom comes in (or Dad). Now I'm not talking about paying for these items, necessarily. I'm talking about the fact that they call us and ask us for our opinions, our suggestions, our recommendations on those big ticket items, where to go, what websites to check, and nine times out of ten they buy what's suggested.

When it came time for my son to get an "interview suit," he didn't head out on his own to make that purchase, WE went. There I was rummaging through the rounder of suits, picking out the wool gabardines, leading him away from the summer khakis, "a wool gabardine will take you through 9 months, a khaki through 3 AND you'll have this suit for years, it's a classic. This is a much better purchase, more bang for the buck," I said. When my daughter was looking for a dining table, same scenario. Both Mom and Dad went recently to the furniture store with our son when he was buying a bed... these are big purchases, they're long term purchases and our kids look to us for guidance, and oh yes, the possibility that we just may pick up the tab. But it's really that they don't want to "go this alone," not when there's serious money involved.

When your Gen Yer graduates from college; no more furnished dorm room, it's time for that apartment and making choices. There's probably a bunch of stuff they can have from the family home, as long as they provide the U-haul and the brawn, but if they don't live close by, that's not necessarily the best option. Some conversations sound like this: "does it make sense to spend X dollars on a brand new rug for the living room that I'll have for years? or Should I go to Target and pick one up that I may only have for a year or two? Should I spend X dollars for a new bed? My back is killing me after a night on a lousy mattress." Our kids are asking for advice on their benefits packages (401ks, insurance, etc.), they're also asking about their "real world" purchases and let's face it, we have influence!

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