You’ve probably heard the term “empty nesters”, a name for parents whose kids have left home for university or to live on their own. For decades, this was the assumed trajectory: kids left home and they didn’t come back.
Parents turned the now-empty bedroom into a hobby room or extra storage. Some downsized their homes, purchased a 2-seat convertible and settled back into life as a couple instead of a family. Kids went on to do typical early-20s things, like renting their first apartment, learning how bills work and coming home to do laundry.
But in Australia, where housing prices are skyrocketing and we are seeing a huge increase in the daily cost of living, there’s a new shift occurring: kids are either leaving home and “boomeranging” back or not leaving at all.
We know this because, as you might recall from our first piece, Insights Exchange and Pureprofile surveyed 1,700 18+ Australian residents, inquiring about their home, work, purchasing and life decisions. We identified 5 profound shifts that will impact brands for decades and have spent time interpreting what these shifts will mean and how companies can pivot accordingly.
This second shift—more kids not moving out—is a major transformation, for parents and companies alike. Here’s what to know now.
What the Data Shows
While we may assume all kids leave mum and dad’s house and become self-sufficient, the numbers tell a different story:
Maybe the most surprising figure is this: 40% of the parents and kidults actually like living together. While some scenarios are out of necessity, there’s a clear preference for this living arrangement. This way of living might just catch on, becoming as common in Australia as it is in many parts of the world.
While the quantitative side tells part of the story, there’s a qualitative side, too. While conducting our research, we spoke with two individuals whose particular scenarios echoed many others:
“I have a great relationship with my family and living with my parents has really helped me save money and get ahead of my finances. I am a musician, so I am constantly travelling – so living with my parents is somewhat flexible and stress-free.” – Female participant, 18-35, WA
“I envisage as likely I will be sharing house with my daughter and adult nephew in 3 years – will just have to wait and see.” – Male participant, 61, Single, VIC
At this point, you may also be wondering: if adult children don’t pay mortgages, live with their parents and work full-time, where is their income going?
Our research revealed unique spending habits around disposable income among at-home adults:
If you’re in the business of music festivals, cars, furniture or tourism, these numbers are something to celebrate—especially as this group’s earning capacity grows.
But even if you’re not working within these four industries, this shift is one to be aware of. Read on to discover how this impacts advertisers and brands!
What This Means for Advertisers & Brands
Once again, our expectations need an update. This shift is going to have an outsized impact on brands that cater to Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X or Baby Boomer consumers, especially those going off the assumption of exclusively empty nest Baby Boomers or independent young people.
Imagine, for example, you market a travel brand. While conventional wisdom leads you to focus on mum and dad or even those 30-34 year olds who have disposable income, perhaps this shift means another potential demographic is emerging, a new opportunity to expand your business.
With 40% of 18-24 year olds living at home—and just 24% as full-time students—it’s likely they have flexibility in both their time and finances. Tourism brands may have more traction in this age range than, for example, older Millennials saddled with a mortgage or rent and, possibly, their own kids. Perhaps the consumer willing and able to spend $3K on a 3-week vacation is actually a 23 year old living at home, not a 63 year old working and saving for retirement—while supporting a 23 year old.
Marketing channels switch from print magazines to TikTok influencers, vacation packages no longer offer laidback dinners but parties with top DJs. Now, it’s Gen Z’ers being sought for all-inclusive getaways, not mum and dad.
Or, consider a telecom brand. In the past, their messaging for “senior” customers focused on low-tech phones and pension-friendly pay-as-you-go pricing, catered to folks now in their 80s or 90s. Now, the telecom brand embraces the shift: a generation of tech-savvy parents with kids still at home. Their new campaigns center around flexible family plans—for mum, dad and the adult kids—because, after all, half of these would-be empty nesters are partially or fully supporting their kids’ finances. We can assume the cell phone bill is included!
In the new campaign, we see Facebook ads for family plans with images of parents in their 60s and kids in their 30s. Perhaps there’s an option to add an adult child’s partner because they’re also living in the home. The cell phone “family plan” is redefined for this new reality.
This stark change in how certain age groups spend their time and money will have an impact on most industries with plenty of obstacles and opportunities. So, what can you do about it?
What Your Brand Can Do Now
Like all change, the best thing you can do is step back and look for the possibilities.
For one, consider this: is your buyer persona even affected by this shift? Some brands may be affected less than others; some may end up with a new niche buyer persona while others need to rethink their branding entirely.
Second, think about how your brand can pivot in small ways to fit multigenerational households. Although some of these stats reveal minor numbers, your brand could own the segment with minor efforts.
Third, analyse brands in countries where multi-generational households are common, focusing on how they approach promotions, messaging and even packaging or sizing. While this shift is new to Australia, it’s the norm in many parts of Southern Europe, Asia and Latin America, so there’s plenty of inspiration to learn from.
Finally, go off hard data, not assumptions. Understand if and how this shift impacts you. That’s where Insights Exchange generates the most value, giving you a data-based look at your customers, opportunities and actionable insights, provided by cost-effective, vetted experts.
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