The Modern Family: How Today’s Consumers Are Evolving


For decades, the traditional (or nuclear) family — consisting of a father, mother, and their children — dominated the makeup of an average household in the U.S. This common family unit gave businesses a predictable target audience to advertise their products and services to. Today, however, this traditional family model makes up less than half of all families in the country. Not to mention, the behaviors and preferences of the modern-day consumer have also changed drastically, even within the last ten years. In essence, there is no such thing as a “typical” American family anymore.

So, what do these significant shifts mean for the business world? Modern-day marketers must recognize and adapt to these demographic and behavioral changes in order to reach today’s ever-evolving consumers. Read on to discover the consumer changes that have taken place recently and what your business should do about them.

Shifts in the Makeup of a Modern Family

Parts of the dramatic changes in the modern family involve an uptick in changing gender dynamics, an increasing amount of disruptive in-home technologies, and a rising number of Millennial-led and multicultural families.

For example, 64 million people live in multi-generational households, which accounts for 20% of the population. Furthermore, there are 887,446 same-sex couple households, 13.6 million single-parent families, and 1 in 3 Millennials live with their parents. Along with those demographic changes have come extensive behavior changes as well. Across the board, society is becoming less and less connected to their fellow citizens, more so than any other time in recent history. Americans are turning to smaller circles, and longing for a greater sense of their own community, friends, and, above all, family.

The “Home-Basing” Trend

The term for Americans’ range of newfound behaviors is called "home-basing." This trend refers to the tendency of modern-day families to opt for staying in versus going out. The reality is that most of today’s families would prefer to spend their week nights (and even weekends) in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by family and friends.

There is plenty of data to back up current home-basing preferences. 80% of all families admit that they would rather stay in with their tightly knit circles of relatives and friends instead of going out. Remarkably, 78% of Millennials say that they agree with that same statement, shattering the now-outdated stereotypes that younger generations are constantly on the move.

Concrete evidence can be seen in the entertainment industry, who has already experienced the home-basing trend negatively affecting their sales. Reports indicate that movie attendance is at its lowest level since 1995 with a 6% decrease in the number of movie tickets sold since the peak of 2016. Meanwhile, home entertainment has seen a rise of 11% in entertainment spending on streaming services since 2016.

Still more evidence supporting these preference changes has emerged in recent years. Studies show that consumers are now neglecting restaurants and choosing to eat at home 80% of the time. In addition, the 2017 Census reported a record-low of Americans relocating to new homes. At the same time, home remodeling is being held in high regard and expenditures are expected to rise up to 7% moving into 2019. The statistics seem to back the theory that Americans are fully embracing the home-basing trend.

Modern Families and What They Cherish

Modern families desire comfort, viewing their homes as “sanctuaries” where they can be productive and simply recharge. They prize flexibility and nearly three-fourths of all modern families admit that they are always looking to improve their homes. They treasure moments that allow for more intimacy, and lastly, they protect time with their families, especially the family meal.

How Should Businesses Respond?

So how do these changing demographics, behavioral patterns, and ideals among consumers affect marketing tactics in 2019 and beyond? By incorporating these three sets of brand values into your marketing campaigns, modern families will feel understood, they will be able to relate, and eventually, they will be more inclined to become customers.

Appeal To Consumer Comfort Zones

Americans are looking to relax and they seek out comfort above all. For brands, the key to success is when they can deliver comfortable, safe experiences to modern families, enticing them to involve other family members and friends. Businesses can use their advertisements to appeal to consumers’ comfort zones by reminding them that their products and services will do all of the heavy lifting. Make interactions with your business sound like weightless, easy-going experiences. Be sure to include easily navigable and straightforward digital processes for consumers to utilize, such as an online consultation on a responsive website.

Be Flexible

Now more than ever, uniqueness is praised and widely accepted. Today’s modern-family is comprised of individuals who are similar in some of their preferences, yet profoundly different as well. Businesses should approach this by being open and flexible. Allow consumers to realize their self-expression needs and see how your products and services can fit into those expectations.

Never Neglect The “Basics”

Sure, digital experiences are taking the world by storm, but businesses must also remember that there is no replacement for an old-fashioned, “back-to-the-basics” dialogue. Even today’s modern families would agree, still preferring to have frequent face-to-face and collaborative experiences where they can feel that their unique needs are being met. For marketing purposes, businesses should seek to include these personalized and uncomplicated types of messages to make consumers feel understood without being overwhelmed.

There is no doubt that consumers are evolving and the modern family unit looks nothing like it has in the past; however, businesses can adequately respond by adjusting and tweaking their marketing to meet (and exceed) these new consumer expectations. 

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