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Monday, April 9, 2012

If families don’t look the same, should your research?

Observation:   Quirk’s is a trade publication for the research world, and today they featured a story about the changing decision dynamics that exist in many families.   It’s worth the read, and you can see the full story by clicking here.

Implications:   This is a fascinating article because it invites the reader to consider decision styles.  Once upon a time, decisions were made by the head-of-household (or heads-of-household).  Today, children often collaborate in the decision process at the invitation of their parents.

But it is not just the generational shift that is important here (the article compares War Baby parents (those who gave birth to the Baby Boomer generation) to Baby Boomer parents (those who gave birth to the Millennials).   It is not just a decision style that makes these cohorts different:  It is the composition of the family, itself.  (See “The changing composition of the American family,” February 20, 2012, or “Welcome to the (non-traditional) family,” from August, 2011.)

Advancements in technology should be reason enough to reconsider your approach to consumer research.  But when you add to that issue the fact that there are more single parents, blended families, un-married co-habitant parents, and multi-generational households… updating your consumer insights strategy becomes imperative.  (Is it good enough to talk to just "Mom" when her children might participate in a significant share of the decision?)  It seems to me that it would be difficult to have a decent conversation with families that have evolved... if you are using a research approach that hasn’t. 

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

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