MEET THE PARENNIALS
Here at Fullscreen, we are obsessed with understanding our audiences, the nuances that shape their worlds and impact their decisions. Since our inception in 2012, we have followed and grown with Millennials and Gen Z as they have come into their own.
Now that Millennials in particular are in the prime of adulthood, over half (55%) are parents, a sub-segment we have affectionately dubbed Parennials. They are among the age group that Time magazine called “The Me Me Me Generation” back in 2013, but Millennials have come a long way since then, and so has technology. Their children belong to Gen Alpha, a generation that began the same year that Instagram and the iPad came into the world. That means parenting today comes with unique challenges, like managing kids’ digital screen-time before they learn to read.
FACING CHANGE WITH OPTIMISM
Millennials are typically waiting longer to have their first child and 67% are working full-time, which means they are older and more likely to be in two-income households than previous generations. However, certain cultural and economic shifts have made it harder for them than previous generations. For example, the cost of raising a child has increased 40% in the last decade and has not been met by an equal increase in household income. That means expenses like childcare, diapers, and baby food are harder to afford.
Despite the challenging circumstances that come with becoming a parent today, Millennial parents are juggling it all and leaning on tech for support. For them, technology is a source of optimism, as 83% agree tech is making the world a better place. This is, in part, because of how much it helps them parent. What surprised us was, when asked how tech helps them to parent, the resounding top response was not about occupying their children but providing entertainment for themselves.
Tech not only helps Parennials with “me time” but it’s also breeding a new definition of “we time” and helping to foster a more close-knit family. Over two-thirds say technology helps bring their families together.
EQUIPPING THEIR HOUSEHOLDS WITH GADGETS
In order to help manage the hustle of their busy lives, Millennial parents are creating their own real-life Jetson families. They equip their homes and their families with the latest technology from smart watches to smart home devices. Parennials are 2.5x more likely to own emerging tech compared to millennials without kids. Voice assistants are where we see the biggest difference in adoption rate as almost half of millennial parents use voice assistants regularly, more than twice that of non-parent millennials.
Voice helps them manage it all. They use it to make sure dinner doesn’t burn by setting a hands-free alarm, to ensure their kids are brushing their teeth properly with the help of a voice-powered game, to look up fun facts before bed, and to stream music during their downtime. Kids whose parents are using voice are twice as likely to use voice than kids whose parents don’t use it.
The love of tech is shared from parent to child with almost 9 in 10 millennial parents allowing their kids to use devices regularly. While the topic of device usage and screen time for kids can spark conflict, parents are actually 1.5X more likely to be concerned about inappropriate content and online predators than tech addiction.
In lieu of banning online exposure altogether or constantly looking over their shoulder, most parents take a realistic approach and do their best to make sure kids are watching content from trusted sources like family movies and social media stars. They also use tools like blocking apps or sit down and watch content as a family.
USING TECH AS A TOGETHERNESS TOOL
What we found fascinating was that Millennial parents watch content with their little ones more as a way to bond with their kids than to control what kids watch. Regardless of whether they’re watching an online video, content from social media stars, a TV series, or full-length movie, the primary motivations for family viewing are the same–to spend quality time together and to laugh together. Outside of the bonding benefit, each content format provides unique value. Parennials say influencer-made videos help them start conversations and learn more about what their kids like while movies are more about sharing in the enjoyment as a family.
For these tech-forward families the top activities they do together at home are digital, like playing video games and watching something together. They also enjoy cooking and eating together as a family at home. Outside the home, they prefer more memorable outings like experiential events over more typical family activities such as eating out at a restaurant.
MAKING SURE TO STAY “ME”
There may be a sliver of truth in the “me generation” stereotype, but it’s not a bad thing. Even as Millennials become parents, three-fourths say they continue their personal passions. They see it as an important component of their well-being. Social media is part of how Parennials hold onto their individuality. Whether it’s scrolling through posts from their friends and favorite creators, to watching how-to videos on YouTube, the time they spend on social media is all about decompressing and focusing on personal interests.
Their spending habits give more clues to how millennial parents are more than moms and dads. Millennial parents actually spend more than non-parent millennials across nearly every category, not just baby supplies and kids’ toys. In fact, they spend almost 40% of their income on food and drink.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BRANDS…
1. Start planning for voice with families in mind. Not only are parents using voice, but so are kids. Make voice an integral part of your content strategy and execute in ways to provide a helpful service or entertain them.
2. Think of them as a unit as much as individuals. Create content that provides entertainment families can share, including content that helps start conversations about new subjects or inspires activities they can do together.
3. Remember they are more than parents. Even if you know you want to reach moms, you don’t need to mommy-wash your messaging in order to resonate with her. Millennial parents are a valuable targeting opportunity across product categories– message to their individual needs and shopping modes.
4. Leverage the village. Parennials understand that their children will learn a lot of the digital behavior from friends, teachers and social media stars – in fact, they are turning to their favorite creators to help teach their children healthy habits (like exercise, eating right or teeth brushing), manners (online and offline) and even religion!
Fullscreen, 2019 Generational Report: Next Gen Families