En route to the driveway, where their little graduate student is proudly unveiling his brand-new Passat, Mom grumbles to Dad that Billy isn't socking away enough for retirement. But Billy envisions a rosy financial future, so long as he saves by living under his parents' roof. Some 18 million 20- to 34-year-olds currently dub their parents roommates, according to American Demographics. While such living arrangements were considered a sign of serious slackerdom 10 years ago, today's twentysomethings see living at home not as a sign of failure, but as a financially rational decision.
"The stigma [of living at home] is gone for the most part," says David Morrison, president of Twentysomething Inc., a strategic planning and marketing research firm in Radnor, Pennsylvania. "Parents still feel it, but graduates do not."
What young adults do feel is spending freedom, making them a massive market for you. According to Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting Inc. in Jackson, Wisconsin, companies that will benefit include broadband providers catering to that post-university high-speed access withdrawal; cellular companies offering "family talk" plans; insurance firms selling extended coverage for over-21s; home construction and remodeling businesses that can convert basements to bedrooms; and the book market. "There are a growing number of books being written for parents on things like 'how to negotiate rent when your cherubs move back home,'" says Ryan.
Cars, clothing, travel and entertainment are also hot purchases among this segment, Morrison says. How to reach them? Start early: "Start a dialogue with them while they're juniors and seniors in college through e-mail and direct mail," Morrison advises. "[Then] continue that dialogue once they've graduated." Tongue-in-cheek advertising is a fabulous tool for making light of the back-at-home scenario while attracting business. "You don't want to make them feel mocked, but offer something that speaks to that tension," says Morrison. "But speak to their aspirations as well, and say 'Let us help you get there.'"
- Next Generation Consulting Inc.
4459 Honeywood Ct., Jackson, WI 53037
- Twentysomething Inc.
(610) 940-5860, www.twentysomething.com