When a New York court upheld the eviction of a family’s 30-year-old son, it represented a drama playing out across American homes: getting lingering adult children to move out. It’s no wonder it seems that “adulting” – slang for doing grown-up tasks – is harder than ever. The prospects for Americans having a better life than their parents is dim, according to a recent survey by Ipsos. In it, Americans say that the outlook for having a secure job, a successful career and comfortable retirement are worse for them compared to their parents. Corporate America has tapped into this mindset to offer help.
Brands have created programs and guides to help young people on everything from renting an apartment to using a measuring tape. Of course, Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa has 30,000 commands that people can use to remind them to pay a bill or build a grocery list. There’s now an adulting school in Maine.
Topping the list of milestones that millennials most associate with being a financially mature adult are having a steady job (54%) and buying a home (51%), according to an Ipsos online research on behalf of Amino and Earnest released in September 2017. One in five said that moving out of their parents’ home, buying or leasing a car or being able to afford having a child marked financial maturity.
Yet, many millennials haven’t reached those milestones. The good news is that they are taking steps to control their money, says Marie-Pierre Lemay, a senior account manager at Ipsos. “They’re holding off on expensive purchases, setting goals, creating budgets and cutting down on their credit card habits.”
But they’re not all the way there yet. Many have yet to seek out a financial adviser, contribute to a healthcare spending account, or ask their employer for help to understand their benefits — all hallmarks of traditional “adulthood.” Nor have they tried to negotiate expensive medical bills. “These are areas where brands can help them,” adds Lemay. For those that have yet to make the leap, brands are stepping in to help.
Adulting according to brands
In March 2018, Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC), a California-based membership benefits company, launched a financial package to help eligible members file taxes, improve their credit, or fight a traffic ticket.
In 2017, realty firm Century 21 launched an Adulting 101 campaign with how-to videos on topics from picture hanging to stocking a medicine cabinet. It reached six times more people than the company overall did in the year before.
In October 2017, Procter & Gamble launched an adulting crash course online with tips for doing laundry to making eggs like a proper grown-up. It also offers a “new mover” program that includes home care products like Swiffer and Febreze to laundry products like Tide detergent and Downey fabric softener, along with a coupon book.
“Brands like Swiffer and Tide have become go-to resources for young adults to get non-judgmental guidance to help them feel more confident with everyday cleaning and laundry,” says Angela Trauth, a senior vice president with Ipsos. “In the process, that gives Procter & Gamble an opportunity to start relationships with new customers and build brand loyalty.”
Up to now, experts blamed adult children staying home on high debt, lack of jobs and the Great Recession. But that appears to be changing. Most Millennials want to own homes. First-time home-buyers made up nearly half of new mortgages, excluding refinancing, that Freddie Mac financed in the first quarter of 2018. It was the highest such share since 2012 thanks to low unemployment, rising rents, property values and credit costs.
“This rise in first-time home buyers, coupled with our survey data that shows 32% of millennials have already bought a home and another 36% plan to do so in the next five years, is cause for celebration for hopeful empty nesters and brands eager to serve them,” said Lemay.
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