Changing Family Structures and Gen Z’s Influence at Home

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

The average family as we once knew it – a mother, father, and 2.5 children – has since been replaced by a diverse collection of single-parent, unmarried/cohabitation and reconstructed families. *Gasp* – What would June Cleaver say?

In Mrs. Cleaver’s time, 37 percent of households included a married couple raising their own children. Today, only 16 percent of households resemble the traditional nuclear family. Americans are also delaying marriage, waiting longer to have children, and are having fewer children. Additionally, more babies are born to unmarried mothers than ever before, and US Census data shows that in 2015, 16 percent of single parents were dads. In fact, dads are carrying the full parenting load in more families than ever before.

And it goes without saying that in single-parent or dual-income households, parents have less time. They have no choice but to rely on their children for input into household decisions and purchases (sorry again, Mrs. Cleaver). Given kids and teens have 24/7 access to information thanks to social media and a natural inclination to learn and explore, most parents happily delegate product research to their offspring, which at the current junction are mostly all members of Generation Z.

For instance, ask a Gen Zer to consider family-friendly vacation spots and they’re likely to come back with a comprehensive list, perhaps even a Keynote presentation with corresponding visuals of well-researched choices. And if they have a personal favorite, they’ll employ expert bargaining and persuasion tactics to “sell” their choice. Pivotals know their market, they’ve done their research; for all intents and purposes, they are master negotiators with a drive for personal success in all of their endeavors.

This means Pivotals are primed for further success as family roles and communication styles become more open and democratic. Moms aren’t the only ones buying groceries and household items. Dads aren’t the only ones buying cars and electronics. Gen Z understands the value of money, and as their parents see this understanding in practice, these youth will take on even more responsibility.

But how exactly are Gen Zers influencing family decisions?

According to a YouGov Omnibus Parents Survey examining kids’ influence on their parents’ buying decisions, children are “active decision makers in family economies.” The degree of influence, however, depends on the purchase type. The survey analyzed a range of categories and ages, finding that Pivotals are most likely to have at least some degree of input when it comes to purchases of adults in the household. Where they hold the most influence is in dining. A quarter of Gen Zers pick the fast food restaurants and breakfast foods for their families, followed by snack and lunch foods. Members of this generation have the second highest influence on their parents when it comes to recreational activities, from in-home-entertainment to vacation destinations (see!).

As such, brands aiming to connect with Gen Z – or their parents – must understand the power these youths wield regarding purchases. And impulse sales tactics won’t make all the difference. Gen Zers are pragmatic and methodical to a fault, and they will be sure to discover the best possible product for their needs or wants. Brands should focus on being authentic, unique and purposeful if they hope to win out with this influential, up-and-coming generation.

Want more on Gen Z? Stay tuned for Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, coming Spring 2018. Pre-order here!

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.