Advertising To The Modern Family

This post was also published on Sounding Board, a blog from The Radio Agency where I serve as a Marketing Consultant.

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A recent infographic (shown at right) from AdWeek on advertising to “modern” families got our creative juices flowing about the correct way to reach this growing segment of our world. According to AdWeek, the modern family is made up of heavy media users who are open to advertising, but they are also alienated by most of the messages they see. So how do you craft a message that delivers information but doesn’t offend the nontraditional family?
First, let’s look at the family in 2012. The proportion of traditional families — a married family household — is half of what it was 40 years ago (20% of the population in 2010 vs 40% in 1970). That means 80% of the population is now made up of nontraditional families including single parents, same-sex parents, multi-generational families, mixed-race families, and blended families. They read MORE magazines, visit MORE websites, and watch MORE television than traditional families. They also look TO the media for product information. They are MORE likely to buy brands from companies that support causes they believe in and they are MORE likely to spend MORE in the next 12 months than they did in the last 12 months. Nontraditional families are a large and important segment of consumers, and one that should not be overlooked in your next campaign.
Now that you know why you need to focus on nontraditional families, here’s how you do it:

  1. Know your audience. Really, really get to know them. No matter what product or service you’re selling, it’s important to know who you’re selling to. Do the research. Talk to your distributors. Analyze your databases and social media audiences. Create profiles or personae. And once you know who you’re selling to, make sure you monitor for changes and adapt as needed.
  2. Use people similar to your audience in your messages. An overwhelming proportion of nontraditional families believe the advertising they see does not show families like their own, including 71% of single parents and 60% of mixed-race families. And despite their importance as consumers, they still feel ignored or discriminated against as a result. If you’re trying to reach families with children and you ignore single parents, you could be missing a large segment of potential customers. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to build a message that speaks to the audience you have defined and then uses the attributes of that audience to communicate a call to action.
  3. Makes those messages relevant. We know that nontraditional families (remember, they make up 80% of the population) are open to product messaging and look to advertising for product information. But one of the biggest complaints is that the advertising they see is not engaging. Your messages need to engage the audience. That means strong, creative content that relates to the people that see and hear it. Relevance is key.
  4. Go where your audience goes. Once you’ve spent time, effort, and capital on creating the right message for the right audience, why would you waste it by putting your advertising in the wrong place. Find the media property where your audience gathers or considers themselves part of a community and put your campaign there. This is traditionally called demographic and/or psychographic targeting, and it’s just as important today — maybe even more so — than it was yesterday.

These four simple steps can easily be overlooked but can also pay huge dividends if taken seriously. And there are no signs that nontraditional families will become any less important; in fact, their influence in the marketplace is likely to continue to grow. So make sure you work to craft a message that delivers information but doesn’t offend the nontraditional family.
Want to know more about the modern or nontraditional families? Follow AdWeek’s on-going coverage here. If you’d like to work with us to develop better creative and drive stronger results, contact us to set up an introduction.