October 1, 2014
While researching our latest report, Meet the New Family, we asked consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow for her perspective on how changing family structures are affecting consumers, from today’s young parents to the growing population of solo dwellers. Yarrow, author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy, also discussed how people are finding and forming meaningful connections and some of the new rules in place for marketers.
How is family changing, and what does this mean for consumers’ psychology?
There are fewer societal expectations of what a family should be, and that has a positive implication in that people can select a structure that makes the most sense for them. This is where you see single parenting, same-sex parenting, more collective friends parenting, more involvement from grandparents and so forth.
There is a struggle people have with that shift as well. On the one hand it gives people a lot of freedom, but on the other hand, that freedom arouses a great deal of anxiety, and there’s more responsibility. When you are reinventing the book on parenting, the result is more psychological work, and there’s a lot more anxiety associated with it.
Could there be an area in your life more anxiety-provoking than whether or not you’re a good parent? Your responsibility to your kids is huge, and so when you are doing things differently, you’re constantly having to evaluate how it’s working, using other people’s feedback to test out how they’re doing it. Some of the ways I see parents dealing with that is through social comparison on social media. But when you have problems and real concerns, you know, social media is just not as helpful as real people to talk to. One of the ways this anxiety plays out in the marketplace is through more social research and a closer examination of the products they’ll choose to help them parent. Brand values are more important than ever.
We found that more people than ever are choosing to live solo. Why is this?
People marry later and live longer, so there is more kid-free time in life today. Once kids are out of the equation, people do connect in different ways. People look for a sense of belonging and family in their communities. A lot of that is happening in online communities or facilitated through online communities, but also through shared hobbies, pets and interests. And there are simply more and more ways for people to connect like that.