NEWS20 November 2014

Traditional family a thing of the past

News UK

UK — The concept of ‘family’ has become more fluid, increasingly viewed by people as encompassing more than just parents and siblings, according to a major new research project from OMD UK and Time Inc called The Future of Families.


Two in three people believe one size no longer fits all where families are concerned, while 19% of people include friends as part of their family nucleus, 36% include in-laws and 29% believe pets are part of the family. Half believe there simply won’t be a stereotypical family structure in future.

Traditional parental roles are expanding with parents sharing decisions on childcare and upbringing, up from 54% ( from Time Inc. UK’s Origin Lounge figures from 2008 ) to 67%; working and earning money up from 34% to 41% and shopping decisions up from 24% to 33%.

Cost of Living is the biggest financial pressure for 68% of British families: 31% worry about paying their rent or mortgage each month and 15% about getting on the housing ladder. This is impacting family roles with grandparents increasingly stepping into a childcare role. However only 15% of grandparents are paid, treated or receive something in return.

More than three quarters ( 77%) agree children will be living at home longer in the future. But while Generation Rent – those young adults remaining at home because they are priced out of the housing market – could be a significant financial burden to families, they also had a positive impact, bringing families closer and contributing to a mutual flow of family decision making and support.

For instance, 18% of families with children living at home say they don’t argue at all while 41% argue less than once a month while children are as appreciative of family time as their elders.

And support is reciprocal: 36% of 16- to 24-year-olds have advised their parents on a major life decision.

Technology is aiding communication within families. So even parents are concerned about things such as sharing personal information ( 68%) and privacy ( 67%), 78% instinctively believe that technology is not disruptive in the home and actually has the power to bring families closer together. For instance, 68% see watching TV together as valued family time.

Rian Shah, managing partner strategy, OMD UK said: “The increasing presence of mobile and tablet devices within the household and adoption of a ‘stack and snack’ approach to how we consume media and content, has actually brought families back into the living room together.

“We need to stop ourselves thinking about the family solely in terms of the traditional 2.4 unit, the Future of Families research proves that reality has moved on and will continue to evolve. It’s encouraging to see that family is as important as ever – government, businesses and brands should take note of its changing face, behaviours and needs in order to effectively communicate with families across Britain today and in the future.”

The Future of Families is a collaborative research project from OMD UK and Time Inc. UK and the latest instalment of OMD UK’s initiative the Future of Britain. In addition to using OMD UK and Time Inc. UK’s in-house research panels – OMD Snapshots and the Origin Lounge respectively – the research includes interviews with Time Inc. UK editors and two quantitative studies talking to a total of 4,000 people across Britain. It was complemented by qualitative in-home interviews with family members in different types of household ranging from Boomerang, Empty Nesters, Single parents, Multi-Generational households, and parents of both older and younger children.