The Concertina Family

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Stats from the US Census suggests we will have to rethink our images of family with an increase in female single-parent households and in multi-generational households. Family households are getting smaller and bigger


An analysis of Household data in Ad Age suggests big changes are afoot in our images of family.  Data from the US census Bureau asserts there are roughly 2 million more married couples over the last decade while at the same there is a net decrease of 1.2 million married households with kids.


There’s an increase of over 2 and a quarter million female households with no husband present, and these female households have seen an increase of 1.1 million children since 20o0.  All of this has serious implications for how we conceive of families.  “As four in 10 children are now born in households with no husband present, we see large gains in the number of female-headed households with kids of all age ranges,” explains Ad Age’s Matt Carmichael.


“This will have a sizable impact on both spending and creative strategies for packaged goods, restaurants, education and childcare, and of course any products aimed squarely at kids. Look for grandparent spending to shift as well as the affluent boomers help step in to fill some of the gaps from missing income-producing dads.”


What’s also fascinating is the growth in household size, as the type of household with the biggest size gain was the seven or more person household being up 23%. Ad Age put this down to a number of factors mostly to do with tougher economic times and demographics: Millenials moving back home; pre-boomers moving in with their Gen-X kids “to cut costs and to get assistance in day-to-day household living while avoiding costly retirement communities.”


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It’s clear from all these stats that consumption patterns will shift, marketers need to figure out how to talk to Mom as the sole authority-figure, not just as decision-maker when it comes to spending. And then surely there’s some Family-size deals and packages that include the tastes of wider age ranges.  Most of all, marketers will be thinking about how images of family reflect a social dynamic that will have wide economic, social and business implications.





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