Click on the banner to visit our new and improved consumer trends blog!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Welcome to the (non-traditional) family!

During hundreds of Audience DNA workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada, I’ve had the chance to help media companies understand what kinds of people consume their radio, television or newspaper content.  There’s one very basic set of numbers that never fails to amaze the folks in the room, and that’s the percentage of folks who are living in a traditional family household, compared to those in a non-traditional family.

This week, I’m preparing to speak at a national conference for executives involved with the home furnishings industry.  So I wondered whether the numbers would stand at the national level.  Deirdre McFarland from Scarborough Research in New York was happy to oblige, and provided me with the following information:

26.8% of adults in the U.S. say they are married and have one or more children under the age of 18 living in the household.

56.9% of adults say are simply “married” (with or without children living in the home).

84.7% of adults say they are living in a two-adult household.  Now, that could mean a lot of different things.  These could be couples who are in a committed relationship but not married.  It could be two folks who are simply sharing a residence for economic or convenience reasons.  It could be a 40-something mom with a 19-year old child living at home; in the eyes of the Scarborough Research, that would still be a two-adult household.  Or, it could be a 40-something man with an elderly parent living in his home.  By “two adult household,” we’re looking at a big range of possibilities.  But here’s why it’s important…

Subtract married couples (56.9% of adults) from that group of people who say they live in a two-adult household (84.7%), and you learn that 27.8% of adults are living in a non-traditional family setting.  That means there are more adults living in a non-traditional family household than are living in a traditional, married-with-children household.

Implications:    Just a little simple math can help turn basic data into a valuable insight… and illustrate the extent to which families in the U.S. are changing.

If your marketing is designed to target traditional heads-of-household (those adults who are “Married with Children”), you are technically marketing to a group that is now out-numbered by non-traditional families.   

Data source:  Scarborough USA+ 2011 Release 1 (February 2010 - March 2011).  For more information about Scarborough Research, visit

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

No comments:

Post a Comment