Multigenerational households throw marketers a curve

We’re The 2012 Digital Marketer report full of valuable insights on how to reach the “New American Consumer.” Here’s a sneak peek of the trends we’re seeing:

Americans are again embracing the concept of multigenerational family living. Whether it’s the outcome of a failing economy or other economic and sociological factors, households that contain adults and children from multiple generations are a mega-trend.

The demographic developments are undeniable. An expanding elderly population has begun moving in with their adult children with greater frequency. At the same time, these adult children could be parents of young adults themselves who, for a variety of reasons, have decided to move back home. In both cases, younger children under age 18 also might be present in the home.

One example of this marketplace trend is the emergence of the segment called Sports Utility Families. Defining characteristics of this segment include the following:

  • About 59% of Sports Utility Families have four or more persons living in the household.
  • They are extremely family centered. Fully 80% of Sports Utility Families have childrenunder age 18. They have a high incidence of children across all age ranges and are 4.1 times more likely than U.S. householders overall to be caring for teenage children.
  • Although they earn upscale incomes, they do not feel financially secure; they worry about the future and wish money were less important in their lives.
  • They make a high percentage of online and catalog purchases in outdoor, home office, pets, toys, travel and home décor categories.

Marketing to Sports Utility Families and other types of multigenerational households can be complicated. In many cases, there is no single primary decision maker in the home. Purchase decisions are likely to be shared and influenced by multiple family members. Marketers need to carefully craft their communications when an elderly parent, a young adult or other minors are all sharing the same living space. For example, a household that might initially look like a traditional family with preschool children can easily be overlooked when targeting seniors with a healthcare-related offer. Knowing that this “traditional family” also contains an aged parent dramatically changes the picture.

For more on the New American Consumer pre-order the 2012 Digital Marketer report, set to release in April, and check our blog weekly for ongoing insights.