The Coming Wave of Millennial Parents. Are you ready?

Two weeks ago, the world’s most famous couple became the world’s most famous parents.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, AKA Will and Kate, announced that a new heir to the British, and Canadian, throne had been born: George Louis Alexander. His birth was one of the most anticipated events in recent memory.

Well, maybe as anticipated as Kate and William’s wedding, or their engagement, heck, every time Kate goes grocery shopping is an anticipated event. But Will and Kate are undoubtedly the world’s most famous and most watched parents in the Millennial generation.

What they do with their new son will be watched by millions of moms and dads around the world.

Around the world, mothers are going to be looking to see…

What brand of car seat Kate and Will use when they bring Prince George to the local market or what brand of stroller they use to walk Prince George around the grounds of Kensington Palace.

There is no doubt that these two parents are going to influence the purchasing behaviour of millions of Millennials who are or will become parents in the next few years.

Canadian Millennial Parents – A HUGE Market

Consider these statistics.

There are about eight million Canadians in the Millennial Generation and according to the latest census, Canadians are having more babies than in the past.

According to the CBC story, “the number of children in Canada aged four and under jumped 11 per cent between 2006 and 2011 — the highest rate of growth for that age group since the five years between 1956 and 1961, the trailing edge of the baby boom.” By sheering mathematics alone this mini-baby boom makes sense.  Millennials, the children of Babyboomers, are having children.

So the post-war baby boom leads to an echo baby boom which leads to a mini baby boom today.  And this means we have entered a period when the number of Millennial parents is starting to grow big time as the majority of the generation is now over the age of 20.  Over the next five years, millions of young Canadians will become parents.

These new Millennial parents are unlike previous parents before them, and that matters for marketers.

What Makes Millennial Parents Different?

The most important factor that will effect how most Millennials will act as parents relates to our own upbringing and our use of technology.

1. Structure and Institutionalization = Feedback

Up until now, the Millennial Generation is the most institutionalized generation in history.

Most members of the generation have been in some form of structured, educational environment since we were 3 or 4 years old.

This means we crave feedback, order, and a clear set of directions. This is why Millennial employees always want to know how they’re doing and if they are on the right path and explains why my own students hate it when I leave all the course evaluations until later in the semester.

For marketers looking to sell products and services to parents, you can feed into this need for feedback by engaging with Millennial parents and helping them make the right decisions for their new families.

Huggies has been really successful at this with its Mommy Answers page.  Moms are invited to submit questions to their online community and get answers.  This colloborative parenting instinctively feeds the Millennial’s need for feedback – to feel comfortable that they are on the right track when it comes to parenting.

Nestlé also has a website with resources for new parents on everything from healthy pregnancy to healthy babies linking their products with the decisions parents have to make.

2. Technology = Digital Natives

Everyone knows that one of the distinguishing features of Millennials is their use of technology.

It’s not just that we use it a lot and are connected, but that we adapt quickly to it.  The friends within the social networks  we rely on for advice are online and therefore the brands we interact with need to become part of the conversation.  We can listen to this conversation happening in real time on Twitter and other social networks and learn from those conversations. Brands can also invite parents to have conversations in their space – like the Huggies Mom site.  Online engagement with influencers is the best way to get young parents aware of your products.

Word of mouth, online referrals, and sharing is what will move your brand from last to first – as long as the product or service you are offering is high quality and solves a problem that needs solving -or helps Millennial parents share their latest 100 cute photos of their baby!

The “Must DOs” for Marketing to Millennials Parents

Last week, Jaime wrote about Millennial moms being all grown up and ready to spend.

She had lots of good advice on marketing to them that I incorporate into a broader set of recommendations for engaging and connecting with this new cohort of parents. Millennialinfluencers

1. Find Our Influencers This step is critical when marketing to any Millennial, but especially when marketing to Millennial parents.  As mentioned earlier, Millennials crave feedback.  We need to know what we are doing is right.  We will research online, ask our own parents for advice, and seek out the opinion of those we trust. In the world of a Millennial parent, influencers take many forms but the most important are our friends (who have kids) and our parents.  Other important influencers are online resources such as blogs, websites, and other tools that young parents find to help them learn the ropes of parenthood. Engage those influencers and learn what they think about your brand, your products, and your services.  You will learn a lot about what Millennial parents think of you two or three months down the road.

2. Connect to Our Personal Brands A lot has been written about the relationship between Millennials and ethical consumerism.  Our own research finds that Millennials will spend more on ethical and locally sourced products. But the importance of ethical products is greater when it comes to our kids.  We want products that are safe, sustainable, and align our personal brands with our kids.  When I push my kid around in a stroller or have him play with certain types of toys, I’m sending a message about the kind of parent I am. All brand managers marketing towards Millennial parents need to ask: how does my brand align with the brand of Millennial parents?  The answer will not always been the same depending on which Millennial segments you’re marketing to.  Achiever parents will be very different from Simple Lifer parents.  Research helps understand how to connect your brand with the brand that individuals want to project.  Make a connection and you will create a loyal customer.

3. Make it Convenient

Everyone leads busy lives these days but no ones lives are busier than that of Millennial parents.  In trying to connect with our personal brands, tell us how your product or service will save us time and make our lives a little bit easier.  Whether its managing our work-life balance, other family commitments, and our need to stay healthy, adding on a new addition to the family eats up a lot of that time.  If you’re trying to sell me toys, food, baby clothes or other products, tell me how it will help make my life easier while still aligning with my own personal brand.

Some brands have been better than others at evolving to meet the new realities of Millennial parents.  Others still have a lot of work to do to understand Millennials and connect with them.  If you’re spending money marketing to Millennials through paper flyers and newspaper ads, its time to switch marketing and advertising agencies.

4. Engage Us and Feed our Need for Feedback

Call it feedback marketing.  Set up an online platform that helps Millennials get answers to questions, gives them feedback on how they are doing, and reassure them that they are headed on the right path.  The platform can also be used to show that your brand cares and wants them to be successful at whatever it is they are doing.  Feedback marketing builds trust.  It demonstrates that your brand is authentic and honest.  Build an online community who can become influencers for your brand, teach you things about their lives, and help you to serve their needs better.  Feedback marketing is for market-oriented brands and is a powerful tool for marketing to Millennials.

It is important for marketers to understand the intricacies of the incoming Gen Y Mom and to adapt to make the most of an engaged and active buying-force if they want to be successful over the long term.

Abacus Data Segment to Watch: The Achievers

Want to know more about this generation? Check out the Abacus Data Millennial Research Practice and our unique personality segmentation by checking out canadianmillennials.ca.

Sign up for the Abacus Insider newsletter and get the latest insights on the Millennial generation at Abacus Data.

Disclosure I’m 31 and not yet a Millennial parent, but that day will hopefully come soon.  The idea of raising one or two little kids is scary and I know I’ll be looking to others for help. If you do want to talk to a Millennial parent at Abacus Data, please reach out to Sean Copeland, our Director of Consumer Research.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248

E: david@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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