On targeting “Gen Y”

21 years ago   •   2 min read

By Marcia Kadanoff

Market researchers define “Gen Y” as the group of young adults turning 21 in the years 200x and 200x.

Boomerang Kids: they’re not another Survivor crew set in a land down-under. They’re that increasing group of 20somethings that have ricocheted back home to mom and dad’s after living independently in the Real World. And for a number of reasons, this trend isn’t leaving the nest any time soon.

From oxford dictionary:  boomerang kid (also boomerang child) noun an adult child who returns home to live with his or her parents after being away for some time: With the country in tough economic times, more young American adults, over age 18, are returning to the family nest. Some boomerang kids may come and go for years, if not decades.  Historically, the number of boomerang kids rises when the economy turns sour.  The average boomerang child surveyed was 22 years old and had been away from home an average of two years.  Researchers found that the rate of return of boomerang children to their homes did not depend on how wealthy the parents were.

In 2001, Stats Canada reported that 41 per cent of young Canadians aged 20-29 were living with their parents. That’s a whopping 14 per cent increase from 20 years ago, when only 27 per cent of young people fell into this category.

A long list of generational reasons explains this trend, including failed marriages, financial implications, and more people in their 20s still in school. But one thing’s for sure: Boomerang Kids are here to stay – at least for now – which means sharing a roof with their Baby Boomer parents will mean some compromise at both ends.

Studies from Europe show that increasingly members of this generation are returning to the nest after college.  For example, DataMoniter recently completed a comprehensive international study that included 12 focus groups, 50 one-on-one interviews, as well as constituent interviews with executives responsible for marketing at their companies.  The surprising finding?  A full 65% of European 18-24 year olds live at home and possess greater spending freedom because of it.

While its’ easy to dismiss this as some weird phenomenon peculiar to Europe, that is not the case.  The same trend has been found in the US and in Japan. 

In the US, the 2000 census figures revealed more than 80 million so-called “empty nesters” who find themselves with at least one grown child living at home, a phenomenon some are calling the “bounce back” generation.  The percentage of bounce back children has risen even as the number of children ages 25-34 has dropped due to the changes in the birth rate.  Based on 2000 census data, around 65% of young adults between 18-25 live at home.  In 1991, the comprable figure was only 55%. 


Leaving home has long been a cultural right of passage.  It used to occur fairly automatically with college attendance, marriage, or landing a full-time, well-paying job. All of these occurrences are rarer today than they were even two decades ago.  College graduates return home cyclically to cut cost. And the earning prospects of non-college bound graduates have eroded so severely that they often cannot afford to move out.

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