Buying Power of Baby Boomers, Grandparents, and Silver Surfers
By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Specialist
Satisfying, stimulating and entertaining children remains the goal of today’s youth market
manufacturers. Getting new toys into the hands of children is increasingly focused on a powerful
buying group: grandparents. However, grandparents aren’t the only older generation being
targeted for toys and games purchases. As a prime target for collectibles, Baby Boomers are
building and expanding their own toy collections which in some cases have a nostalgic twist.
Silver Surfers, Golden Opportunity
About one-third of American adults are grandparents. There are currently 70 million of them in
the U.S. And with Baby Boomers now approaching grandparent age, this number is expected to
swell to over 115 million by 2010. As a group, American grandparents spend more than $30
billion a year on their grandkids, a two-fold increase over what was spent a decade ago.
Grandparents represent 15% - 25% of the annual toy dollars spent, depending on the individual
toy category. Grandparent purchases are a significant factor in the United States, representing
between $3.5 Billion- $4 Billion dollars annually for purchases of toys and games; the entire
annual traditional toys business in the USA represented $22.3 Billion market in 2006 (Source:
The NPD Group, Inc.).
Manufacturers and retailers have targeted the more internet-savvy and technologically competent
group of younger Baby Boomer grandparents, who have the dollars and the inclination to spend
on their grandchildren. Many are surfing the web, looking for deals and have been dubbed
“Silver Surfers”. Research indicates that 10% of all grandparent dollars spent on toys are ordered
online. The new American grandparent is young (47 years old) and wants to actively take part in
their grandchildren’s lives. With today’s life expectancy at 76 years, they may have as much as
30 years of grandparenting ahead of them.
Many have waited for years to indulge in their gra