Redefining Family for Market Research

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The definition of family has been evolving over the past decades. The past year showed us the importance of spending time with our families and further helped us define who we include in our family. Given that family has an immense impact on the purchasing decisions of consumers everywhere, the changes in the definition are important when conducting marketing research. 

Who Is Family? 

Firstly, let us define what constitutes a family. Traditional definitions of family are either a nuclear family or a joint family. A nuclear family is the simplest possible family unit composed of only the parents and their offspring. The joint family comprises the extended family and can be defined in multiple ways. There is no fixed number of generations that are considered part of this family. Recently, people have come to define family to include people who are neither blood related, nor related by marriage. 

How Does Family Affect Consumer Behavior?

The members of a family are a society bonded together in a special way within a specific culture. They are like a small society that can change each other’s minds easily, having a great influence on the preferences, habits, and even budgets of the entire group.

For example, a single mother is less likely to spend money on new clothes for herself, because she is thinking of the money needed for her son’s school fees. On the other hand, a teenage boy that is part of a wealthy family might spend money on things he does not need, but rather things he desires. He does this knowing that he has a roof over his head and food on the table, not because of his own wealth, but because of his association with a family that has wealth. 

The Roles of Family Members and Their Dynamics

For every product in the market, a family has a number of roles they play with respect to each other and the product. These are known as the buying roles, that is, their part in the decision process for purchase. Also, the way a family relates with each other (dynamics), and their ages with respect to each other (life cycles) can influence their purchasing decisions. 

How Is This Relevant To Marketing?

The impact of a family on the decisions of a consumer means that market research needs to specify family as a part of the target audience’s description. For example, instead of targeting children under 12, we can say we are targeting children of single mothers. The alternative is also possible: targeting children under 12 of middle-class families. Specifying the family in a market research can give you better insight into your target market, and help you cater to their needs more efficiently. This in turn makes for a more successful business. 

Marketing professionals should take note of the family unit and how it impacts the decisions of the members of that unit. As the definition of family evolves, they should also account for members recently considered a “part of the family”, as their influence is likely similar.

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