This essay addresses the issues of changes in the structure of traditional nuclear family and the consequences of these amendments for marketing strategies of the companies.
In the United States, the traditional nuclear family is an essential aspect of conservatism concept. Nuclear family is the household consisting of two adults and their children who have the common residence place and economic cooperation. The idea of the nuclear family became popular in the West in the early 20th century as the opposing theory of traditional extended family, where the few age generations lived together in one house as a family. The reason for the growing impact of nuclear families in the society was the economic progress and increased wages for the working class. Hence, the young families became more financially independent and able to live separately from their parents. The father is the opinion leader in the nuclear family, whereas children are expected to follow his example. Wife is responsible for children and should be assistance for her husband. As far as the opinion leader, husband, is in charge of the main purchasing decisions, whereas a wife takes care of the casual need of the family, the promotional campaigns of companies’ products were bases on these distinctions. For instance, the advertisement of Folger’s instant coffee is an excellent example of promotion that appeals to 1960th family values. While Harvey, the character of the advertisement, criticizes his wife for thebad morning coffee, he emphasizes that the lady in his office prepares better coffee. This makes a threat to his wife that the coffee may be the reason, why he is going to start looking for other women. The advertisement appeals to the most preserved family value as the role of the woman as a helper and assistant of the man is endangered. The “Leave it to Beaver” show is also a great example of family traditions in the beginning of 20th century. The films try to educate children and show that some habits of the older people do not fit them. In the fragment with a smoking bowl, children try to smoke and understand that there is no pleasure in it. Hence, they want to get home, as they are taught, that home is the best place where they won’t get in any troubles. Thus, the marketing strategies of the firms were based on the understanding, that the man is the clear cut opinion leader, and all turns around his views, needs and decisions.
Later on, the traditional nuclear family starts experiencing some changes. While the traditional nuclear family praised the same race of the spouses, the nuclear family in 1960-1970th departed from this stereotype. For instance, the popular television sitcom in 1960th “I love Lucy” shows the white woman marrying Puerto Rican man. Nonetheless, the characters cannot be shown in the same bed, as it was assumed racy, and the man is still considered the head of the family and an opinion leader. The funny episode, where the husband tries to learn proper English in order to teach it to his future son ends up in his disappointment. Consequently, he argues in favor of his native language, Spanish, and decides that both his wife and kid should learn Spanish. Here, the dominancy of the husband in the family is shown. Thus, the target of the advertisement strategies in 1960th was still a man with his ideas, but the traditions in family building have changed, so did the interests and the values of the families.
The subsequent changes in family institute may be seen via popular in 1980th sitcom “Cosby Show”. The show presents the reality in which American nuclear families of that time lived and reveals the everyday life of the normal family with its problems, quarrels, funny moments and achievements. Moreover, the sitcom broke racial stereotype and portrayed an Afro-American people who were educated and successful. Contrary to the beginning of the century, both man and woman work in order to contribute to family’s wealth. Thus, the main purchasing decisions are made collectively. The episode with the small girl and her father, trying to make her eat, confirms that both parents are in charge of their children upbringing. The target audience of marketing switches from the man as the opinion leader to the unity of husband and wife. The prevalent consumers are both men and women, more or less egalitarian in their purchasing decisions.
The current variety and distribution of family forms is enormous. According to US In 2000, for the first time in American history less than a quarter households accounted for traditional nuclear family. What could it mean for marketing? The traditional nuclear family is no longer a reality, but rather an example of successful family, where conventional norms, roles and customs are preserved. From the marketing point of view, appealing to nuclear family values today covers only a small part of population, whereas the majority is out of the target. The popular TV comedy series “Modern Family” shows the dramatic changes that occurred with nuclear family during last fifty years. The comedy tells stories of three families – a family of old America man and his young Hispanic wife with her child from the first marriage, a family of gay couple who adopted a Vietnamese baby and a traditional nuclear family with the home keeper wife and caring father. The individuals today are almost not tight by the law and societal norms in choosing their family type. Thus, marketing strategies of the companies should be keen enough to serve the variety of people’s views and standards. Appealing to the customer requires more studies, research and analyses on the purchasing decisions of individuals. In addition, new types of families generated innovative products, technologies and services, which also made an impact on firms’ strategies. For instance, the same-sex marriages and childless families created a demand for surrogacy, which, in its turn, received a reaction from business in developing a number of surrogate agencies and programs.
To sum up the overview of changes in American family, it is important to say that family structure changes tremendously. First, and foremost, today women are less dependent on men, thus they are more confident in their solely made decisions. The reasons for this dramatic change, in my view, lie in the entrance of women in paid labor force, social leniency toward divorce, the longer life spans of generations and premarital relations. Another change is the emergence of nontraditional families. Of course, the changes affect the lifestyle and purchasing manners of people. Whereas in 1950th the advertisement was built on the idea of “father domination”, today the marketing strategies are decentralized and appeal to public diversity. In addition, the emergence of one-parent, gay and other types of nontraditional families requires the production of special goods and services. Thus, some companies react to the changes and invest in non-incremental diversification sticking to innovative products. Overall, it is important that consumer behavior is studied properly in order to choose the appropriate market strategies. In this light, the studies of family changes patterns is a crucial instrument for building-up a consistent marketing strategy as consumer decisions of individuals are greatly influenced by the surrounding environment.