I’m a statistic. I simply have to look around my toy-strewn living room to know it. According to a New York-based consumer-research company, I spend way too much money on my child. The company estimates that parents in the United States spend $116 million annually on their 3-to-11-year-old children. Guilty as charged. But, here’s where it gets interesting… housing developers are targeting parents like me because of my spending habits. In essence they are using my child to get to my wallet.
When I was growing up having a swing set and sandbox in our backyard was a big deal. Now housing developers are convincing parents like me that my home should have a high tech romper room and a mini-water park in my backyard. And forget about a traditional sandbox—-developers say my kid should be digging in a fake fossil sand yard.
But, it doesn’t stop there. A developer in Lakewood, Colorado recently spent $600,000 constructing a kidney-shaped ice-skating rink in a new residential area. He then spent $200,000 on an interactive water fountain with an 11-ton, six-foot-high granite ball that children can rotate simply to entice Type A parents to invest in living space there. Across the country, on New York City’s Upper East Side, a just-completed luxury building (one-bedrooms start at $895,000) offers two play houses on the roof with child-size loft-style furniture.
The goal of these developers is to entice buyers with as many child-friendly amenities as possible. And, according to experts, it’s working. The kid-centric marketing strategy is a success. And why not? It hits on the two factors that affect the decision-making process of many house-hunting parents: guilt and status. Parents want to give their children the best in life and moving somewhere with upscale children’s amenities makes the adults feel they are being good parents.
Hopefully my daughter will be content with a house full of toys and a turtle-shaped sandbox, because frankly, after buying those items we can’t afford to move.