The notion of family is rapidly evolving, but many brands aren't yet portraying the new reality of today's families or fully speaking to their needs. Our latest report takes a look at how and why families are changing, and how some marketers are responding.

Marriage is no longer a given in many parts of the world, nor are children. At the same time, gay couples are embracing these milestones as attitudes and laws change. Meanwhile, as people live longer, more are forming new families in later decades, and households are expanding to include multiple generations. On the other end of the spectrum, more people are living in households of one, forming families out of friends or even treating pets as family.

These families and ways of living have long existed of course. What’s new is that they are growing more common and less likely to raise eyebrows. What hasn’t changed is that family – whatever its makeup – is still central to our lives.

Many brands aren’t yet portraying the reality of today’s family or speaking to its changing needs. But a growing number of marketers have broadened their definition of what a family means and incorporated new types of images into their messaging, recognising and affirming these consumers.

This report contains an array of examples as well as supporting data and the key drivers behind each family trend:

  1. The new nuclear family
    The traditional nuclear family—a husband and wife, plus kids—is no longer the norm, and even families that fit this classic definition look different today as gender dynamics change. We also explore the proliferation of same-sex families, the growing inclination to forego children and even the family pet’s new role.
  2. Solo living
    In tandem with the decline of traditional nuclear families, living alone is on the rise as more people postpone couplehood, eschew it altogether, divorce or “live apart together.”
  3. Multigenerational families
    While multigen homes have always been the norm in many parts of the world, they’re proliferating more widely, notably in the U.S.
  4. Silver families
    Family is in flux among older generations: As people enjoy longer, healthier lives, they’re more motivated to leave behind unhappy situations and forge new families.
  5. Friends as family
    Constantly connected to social networks but often physically distant from relatives, urbanites are weaving together families out of friends.

The two parent, male breadwinner family is basically extinct.

Spencer Thompson, Institute for Public Policy Research

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