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‘Grandfluencers’ – The new digital trend hitting the leisure industry

As an expectant Father, the thought of my parents giving us a ‘break’ in the future by taking our child out for the day, sounds like bliss. This has not only been mentioned to me as an option by my Mother but clearly, the idea that grandparents want to do more experiential things with their child’s offspring is growing.

This rise has been born out of the western world’s shift towards wanting to “do stuff” than “own stuff” – a fact that even IKEA admitted to, back in 2017. But why are ‘Grandfluencers’ becoming the new digital trend to look out for in 2018?

Let me explain.

Who are they?

‘Grandfluencers’ is a term I’ve coined to describe grandparents that frequently look after their grandchildren and seek to share new experiences with them. This includes days out enjoying paid destinations like theme parks and zoos, and free experiences like fishing, walks in the park and cycling.

Grandfluencers are also digitally savvy. Record numbers of older adults have smartphones and tablets, and over half of internet users aged 65-74 have a social media profile. This is supported by the fact that 500,000 people aged 55 and over have signed up to Facebook in 2018 already.

Why are they on the rise?

UK Government statistics reveal that Grandparents are spending more time looking after their grandchildren since records began. There has been a 630% increase in the last three years of Grandparents applying for state pension boosts – a financial perk for those who are regular babysitters.

While they have time to look after little Johnny, they also have the time and ability to use the internet, and more importantly, consume information on social media platforms. This makes them a critical influencer and decision-maker in the life of their children and grandchildren.

Who else agrees?

Mintel – Their UK Family Leisure Industry Market Report found that: “recent years have seen growth in the involvement of grandparents in family life and this is also reflected in their participation in family leisure activities.”

This trend is “presenting new opportunities for leisure operators”, forcing them to reassess the way they promote themselves to families, so that their marketing not only targets parents but also grandparents and boomerang kids too.

Why should I care?

If they aren’t making a purchasing decision, such as buying tickets to visit an adventure centre, they will actively become an influencer on their children. Despite this rise of importance, how many visitor attractions and destinations can really say that they actively target the grandparent market?

In a crowded digital advertising market where parents are pushed every product, from life insurance to family-fun festivals, it makes getting your destination heard, even harder to do.

Maybe targetting grandfluencers is a more organic, cost-effective and easier way to get noticed?

What can I do to take advantage?

Aside from rethinking and overhauling your marketing strategy to cater for the growing grandfluencer market, here’s a few quick ideas that you can implement to see whether grandparents are active in your market.

  1. Trial a digital advertising campaign on Facebook that targets an older demographic who identify themselves as ‘grandparents’

  2. Push promotional emails and social media updates during the day, or at times when you’d expect grandparents to be surfing the web

  3. Tailor your marketing messaging based on what information these grandfluencers are interested in most, for example, “Is there a nice cafe nearby?”

  4. Reassess your online booking user journey to ensure it is as simplified and stress-free as humanly possible

  5. Confidence of grandfluencers online is still an issue, despite their savviness. Keep your information up-to-date, simple and honest.

Robbie is Digital Marketing Lead at Katapult – A Creative England Top 50 company, that create physical and digital guest experiences that amaze and engage your visitors.

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