According to a recent study by Communispace, the recession has added considerable stress to this already overburdened population known as “the sandwich generation,” baby boomers who support kids, parents, relatives and themselves at the same time. However, the study finds that these people are not stressed because they’re caring for kids and parents, it’s because they’re caring for parents and in-laws, period. Consumer Spending logo

A significant finding is that this caretaker segment is more of a “situation” than a generation. It includes people ranging from their mid-30s to 60 and over who will sacrifice more for their parents, even if it’s at the expense of their children:

  • 58% said they’d give a spare bedroom to an aging parent over their young adult child
  • 65% said they’d move in with an ailing parent, even if it meant a longer commute and new environment (school, friends, etc) for their child or children
  • 77% would adapt the things they’d purchase to accommodate parents; for example, when buying a new car they’d consider buying one with a larger trunk (to hold a parent’s wheel chair or walker), rather than one that is comfortable or gets good gas mileage

Recognizing a potential need for targeted products and services, or focused marketing, to this unique market segment, the study presents findings supporting interests in insurance, healthcare/social services and transportation. Insurance responses from these caregivers include the fact that:

  • 45% like the idea of a flexible home health insurance plan that would cover their parents as well as themselves and their spouse at different periods in time
  • 47% would like to have the ability to carry their parents as well as their kids on their health insurance
  • 39% like the idea of a low-cost, high-deductible health insurance add-on for their kids who are not in college but also not employed or getting health insurance from their employer

For those responding to special needs in Healthcare and Social Services:

  • 40%  like the idea of someone who could transport their parent to the doctor, sit with them when the doctor gives them a diagnosis and treatment plan, and then report it all to them
  • 26% like the idea of a combined Senior Center and Child Daycare Center
  • 26% like the idea of a service to dispense or remind their parents to take their medication
  • 22% like the idea of a services that would install webcams in their parents’ home and their own  to let them monitor them
  • A “considerable number” of people are looking for more culturally and linguistically appropriate services for their elderly parents (many of whom don’t speak English)

And in the Transportation field, 26% of the respondents liked the idea of airline discount packs, (i.e. coupons or discounts on multiple trips to the same location, making regular visits to parents easier or making kids’ flights cheaper).

The report concludes by pointing out that over 20 million Americans belong to the “sandwich generation”-baby boomers simultaneously taking care of aging parents and young children.  Feeling stretched, overwhelmed, and under-supported this segment of consumers has particular needs and hopes that marketers must understand.  Products and services designed for a world where one’s middle years bring a decrease in responsibility and an increase in personal time, are out of step with today’s reality.

Study conducted by Communispace, as cited in an October 21, 2009 online report by Research Brief.  Website: www.mediapost.com; www.communispace.com.