The Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) has just announced that the U.S. birthrate has dropped to an average of 1.73 births per mother. To give you a sense of how low that is, the birth rate in 1957 was 3.77, which is more than twice as high as today's birth rate.
The bad news
Why is this important? Because it is part of a long-term trend in which the United States has, to the most part, not been replacing itself since the early 1970s. In other words, more people are dying than are being born. Some may feel that for a planet struggling with over-population, it is a good thing. Others may think that having a large population is essential to a country's overall well-being.
But why should it be important to those of us in the toy industry? At its most basic level, it means that over the next seven years, there are going to be fewer and fewer children consuming toys. If you look at the C.D.C. graph depicted below, you can see that the trend line has been sharply down since the Great Recession in 2007.
National Vital Statistics System. Birth data, 1940–2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/births.htm.
Washington Post reporter, Linda Searing, in her article, "The Big Number: U.S. birthrate drops to an all-time low of 1.73," reports that "The age at which women first become mothers also has increased. Today, U.S. women are, on average, 26.4 years old when they have their first child, according to a Pew Research Center study based on international data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."
The good news
That is good news. It means that far fewer teenagers are having children they cannot afford to raise. That is great for teens, children and American society.
It is also good news for the toy industry. It means that while fewer adults are having children, those who are doing so are older, with higher incomes and hopefully more stable homes. These more affluent parents, particularly those in their 30's and 40's, will have more disposable income to spend on their children. In theory, they should be willing to pay more for a better quality toy.
It adds up to fewer children being born but with more money to spend per child. It would seem that these parents, many of whom are committed to social causes and the environment, would be willing to pay more for toys that are made from materials other than plastic.
Good news or bad news, what do you think?
Very important piece, Richard.
Hence, SAVVY AUNTIE and the PANK (Professional Aunts No Kids) demographic.
As fewer women become mothers, and those who do are more likely to give birth to their first child in their thirties or forties, than in their twenties. That’s where the influential new female consumer – the PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids) comes into play (literally!)
My decade+ research and insights into this tribe of child-loving aunts shows that while motherhood is trending down, aunthood is trending up. More women without children of their own – by circumstance (like myself), choice or challenge, identify as playing an active and loving role in the lives of their nieces and nephews by relation and/or by choice.
My 2018 PANK research found 18.4 million American PANKs ages 20-50 or 23 million PANKs in all. These women are an affluent, generous, emergent consumer tribe. While 86% of PANKs have at least two nieces and nephews in their life, 13% of PANKs have 10 or more nieces and nephews ages 0-18. With a conservative estimate of 2.5 nieces and nephews per PANK, these aunts collectively spend an astonishing $61 billion on the babies, children and teens they love, each year.
Moreover, this market opportunity does not include the average $1,521 spent on
occasional big-ticket items, or the average $232 spent on newborn niece and nephew gifts. Plus, 63 percent have contributed to a niece’s or nephew’s education. PANKs not only lavish gifts on the children they love, nearly two-thirds (67%) have given gifts to parents to help provide for their child or children.
It’s no surprise since a whopping 91% of PANKs say their role as aunt is “very important” to them.
Bottom line: If toy marketers want to expand their consumer-base, look no further than PANKs. We may be secondary caregivers, but we are the primary gift-givers.
For more information, including how much PANKs spend on each niece and nephew on toys and games each year, and on newborn gifts including baby gear – brand marketers can connect with me at email@example.com
Thank you, Richard.
– Melanie Notkin @savvyauntie