Generous grandparents sharing more than love

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Generous grandparents sharing more than love

As more grandparents step in for working moms and dads to look after toddlers and kids, senior citizens are becoming the biggest consumers in the child care-related market.

Instead of working moms, economically affluent grandparents are opening their wallets to pay for educational programs, such as Gymboree, Orda and Montessori.

According to recent data from Samsung Card, card spending on children’s education by those in their 60s and older surged 387.6 percent in the last two years.

The analysis was conducted on data compiled between April 2013 and March 2014, and from April 2015 to March 2016.

During those periods, credit card use by cardholders aged 60 and older rose 30 percent.

Card use by men spiked 456.4 percent, outpacing women’s 344.1 percent increase. The average monthly payment of male cardholders older than 60 stood at 184,000 won ($150). Females spent 109,000 won, the data showed.

Grannies are outspending 30- and 40-something fathers, whose average card payment for child education was between 100,000 and 120,000 won, according to the analysis.

“Active seniors who are taking care of grandchildren are highly interested in their education,” said Heo Jae-young, director of a big data research center at Samsung Card.

“In particular, affluent grandfathers’ contributions to sales growth is noticeable.”

Grandparents are also spending more on toys.

Older consumers are part of the so-called eight pockets phenomenon, with relatives, including aunts and uncles, splurging on toys for young family members.

Grandparents showed a 73.5 percent rise in card spending on toys compared to the other age groups. Parents in their 40s spent 74.5 percent more.

Those older than 60 are buying baby’s clothes, too.

In recent years, the local baby clothes market had a slump, as online purchases from overseas websites increased and as the number of newborns declined.

Korean makers of baby clothing like Agabang and Happyland saw their sales from cards fall 10 to 20 percent in the younger age groups. But senior consumers showed a 0.6 percent rise in card spending for clothes.

“Those in their 60s who are financially stable are increasing spending not only on themselves but also on their family affairs,” Heo said, “and card companies need to pay attention to them.”

At the Befe Baby Fair held at COEX in southern Seoul in February, the new trend was obvious. Of the 110,000 visitors at the fair, as many as 4,188 visitors were older than 50.

Their visits to the event, previously popular among young moms, more than doubled compared to five years ago, according to Befe.

“The number of 50-something visitors is on the rise every year,” said Lee Ju-hyun, head of the Befe event. “Baby item makers are introducing products like strollers and baby carriers that can be easily used by grandparents, too.”

Korea’s traditional baby carriers, made of thick cotton, have made a comeback as grandmothers become consumers in the child care market.

Baby walkers, which were once shunned by young moms over safety issues, are also making a comeback, as grandparents embrace them as they did for their own children.


BY HAN AE-RAN [song.suhyun@joongang.co.kr]

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