Picture this; a mother helps her 26-year-old son move out of home for the second time. This time he's moving in with his girlfriend and they're rentinga place to live. Within six months, the realtionship is over and he's back, and what's more, he's happy to be back.
Twenty years ago this was unheard of, even laughable. Not so for the 20-somethings of today. Having an open return ticket to the family home is becoming more and more commonplace and doesn't look set to change. The recent Family Report 2002 strikingly points to the notion of a closing generation gap. Authored by the Social Market Foundation in association with Lever Faberg鬠it found that today, one in four young Britons between 20 and 30 years of age are still living with their parents. Furthermore, 54% are happy with this. Significant changes are taking place in the British family, along with changing attitudes that are making this scenario increasingly acceptable.
Today, the transient nature of the jobs market, contract working, shortage of low rent housing, student loans all mean young people are returning home more often and staying longer. When asked for the main reason why young people were still at home, 59% said it was because they could not afford to move out.
The influence of older children at home, where more than half of young people say they have a good relationship with their parents, is encouraging the trend whereby parents stay younger for longer with children. Now, almost half of young people e-mail both their parents regularly, showing closer family bonds and forms of communication than is generally perceived. This new contract' means that children are influencing the brand choices of their parents. And when these findings are put into the context of the rising cost of living the impact on the weekly household shop is all the more apparent. With 66% of children still getting money from their parents, they in turn are clearly footing the bill for their children's premium goods for longer.
So brands are now becoming more fluid, breaking out of the strict demographics which have traditionally informed marketing strategies. Lever Fabergé ¨as seen these trends in its own brands such as Impulse, targeted at 18- to 24-yr-olds but 20% bought by women in their 40s/50s, and Lynx, where one in five users is now 50 or over.
With this insight, advertising must be acceptable to other members of the family, particularly if it is Mum who is doing the buying. Moreover, more sophisticated media buying will have to take place and take a position of increasing importance. In the case of Lever Faberg駳 Lynx, for example, where now 53% of its purchasers are women, campaigns have had to ensure that more risqu頩mages are confined to the male magazines, while a softer message appears on TV or outdoor advertising.
If the boundaries on the purchasing of premium goods are shifting, then the industry must further build marketing and brand campaigns which are not simply directed at the individual consumer. In short, both parties will have to look at the root ­ the changes taking place within the family ­ in order to tackle the changes taking place in expenditure.
For manufacturers and retailers alike, social trends impact on how, where and why people shop; their budgets, their values, their loyalty to brands. Consumers do not live in a bubble. Manufacturers and retailers can work together for mutual benefit if they begin to understand the consumer holistically. Understanding consumers within their social fabric informs and shapes product innovation, allowing the growth of categories.