The death of the nuclear family signals the birth of new brand communications

/t/b/h/MaryLouNEW_1_.jpg

The traditional definition of a nuclear family has become redundant in this day and age, but marketers can respond to this by opening their minds to what constitutes a modern family.

The media has mourned the death of the nuclear family since at least the late 1990s, highlighting the decline of the institutional ideal of mum, dad and 2.3 children.

But today it is evident that rather than being a phenomenon to be warned against, the change in how family bonds are now manifested is something to be embraced in brand imagery. Because, despite a greater proportion of modern families being single parent, step-families, extended, adopted and gay than previously thought, I think the view that strong family ties are the stronghold of a productive society has not changed.

A desire from marketers to understand the psychology of today’s family units has spurred a surge in research around this area, from agency Isobel’s FamilyBrand Index, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Secret Life of British Families report, and Marketing Week’s own exclusively commissioned research by consultancy Discovery, all of which feature in last week’s Marketing Week cover story.

Highlighting real family relationships, in the context of how they take place in real life, makes brands real, and that’s what real people want to see, as the research highlights, rather than glossy stereotypes of four beautiful people sitting around a polished table in a massive luxury kitchen.

Werther’s Original’s grandfather and son, Comptoir De Cottonieres’s mother and daughter, Louis Vuitton’s husband and wife, and Lloyd’s TSB’s gay male couple are highlighted in the feature as examples of brands honing in on real life family units and what makes these relationships special.

And as the research from Discovery also shows, there is a certain sector of families defining themselves less through the personal ownership of brands and products and more through a communal identity and the activities they participate in as a family.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for brands to engage families in this way; as Nintendo’s Wii shows, there is definitely a place for brands to facilitate a communal experience. As our research indicates, brands have gained a new importance in the realm of the home and enhancing the home as the place of choice to spend time, in line with trends spurred by “Come Dine with Me” and “Staycations”.

Brands can embrace the less than ideal situation of the Government calling for them to step in and help pick up the slack in its slashed marketing budget and public programmes, and show the country that they understand and want to be part of today’s families.

I think the death of the original nuclear family is something to be celebrated rather than mourned. It signals the birth of new images in brand messaging and the death of the “Don Draper dad and Superwoman mum”, as Saatchi & Saatchi puts it in its report, in favour of recognising the triumphs and struggles experienced by real families.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here