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The Evolution of Family

This post was originally published on Edelman Digital’s blog.

The essence of parenting hasn’t changed – but the definition of who qualifies as a parent, and the day-to-day role of a parent, is rapidly evolving. More than ever, parents are taking to blogs and online communities to voice opinions, seek counsel, and share experiences with other parents. All of that information, and the access it affords to parents – and the families they are part of – provides brands and other organizations with considerations and avenues to reach the family of today.

Edelman’s new study, “Marketing to the Modern Family,” was conducted in 2011 to explore these changing trends. Working with Edelman Berland, we partnered with a panel of experts who represented the Modern Family, including moms, dads, multicultural and GLBT parents, and grandparents with different knowledge areas (finance, wellness, technology). These experts informed a survey that was fielded to moms, dads, grandparents, and multicultural and GLBT families.

Below are five key recommendations that resulted from the study.

  1. Join mom’s online conversation.
    Consider this: 41% of moms say they are the sole decision maker for their family purchases. Plus, they are taking on more now than their moms did when growing up, including managing family finances and working full/part time. Converse with mom online and don’t just speak at her. Listen to mom voicing her frustrations; empathize with her – it will go a long way to gain brand loyalists.
  2. Traditional has become tradition-“all.”
    Mom blogs have long been a major target for brands. But today, more than just moms are writing blogs about parenting. This provides an opportunity to reevaluate your audience and see if dad or grandma has a role to play in the online conversation for your brand as well. Brands should also make their messages broader and be sensitive to non-traditional families. ConAgra brand Reddi-Wip (an Edelman client), recently partnered with parents and grandparents to celebrate multigenerational relationships in the modern family, thus reaching a variety of audiences during peak usage occasions.
  3. Think outside your traditional target.
    Dads are increasingly taking on more responsibility in the home than their fathers did in the past. Use the 80/20 rule when it comes to brand messaging (80% targeted to your core audience (i.e., moms) and 20% targeted to outside your core audience.) Maybe mom is the core target, but dad should be considered an equal partner. There are several new dad initiatives happening in 2012 that deserve your attention – including the first of its kind Dad 2.0 Summit conference, which will bring together some of the most influential online voices in the dad space.
  4. Adapt multi-channel marketing.
    Given how media consumption is rapidly changing, brand messages have to be flexible enough to adapt. Use transmedia storytelling to bridge across new audiences and reach parents and other family members even further. In a world where half of moms “like” brands without doing a thing, engage in multiple channels to ensure message penetration. An advertising campaign can carry one message to your core audience, but make sure that message has many dimensions that can be carried through creative online content, search and social networks to reach all audiences.
  5. Test and learn, mine data, and then optimize programs.
    Members of the Modern Family are being influenced and are using media 24/7. Digital represents a special opportunity for brands because of the ability to test and adapt on the fly. Tools like Salesforce’s new social hub for instance can provide a better understanding of customer data and help brands understand who is really influencing purchasing decisions. Adjust messaging to non-traditional audiences with a data driven approach.

For more information, findings and an analysis of what this means for brands, take a look at the report and contact us at: modernfamily@edelman.com.