The Future of Parenting

01 February, 2016 Share socially
As marketers and researchers we often focus our attention on generational cohorts. Equally interesting and much less covered though, is the impact of life changing experiences on consumers. And as far as life changing experiences go, becoming a parent is up there with the biggest of them.

The following six macroforces forecast a future for parenting where choice and customisation make parenting more individually defined than ever. With the cost of raising a child in the first 4 years recently calculated to be over
70 thousand pounds in the UK, understanding and responding to the drivers of choice for new parents is beneficial to the bottom line of any parent or child focused brand.

1. Austerity will continue to impact attitudes to purchase

European Commission studies into future economic indicators show that millennials will continue to face financial challenges. Many have an aversion to debt and are driving the purchasing practice of ‘trading up’ and ‘trading down’.  Jeff Fromm from FutureCast explains “If you’re a mid-range brand and you’re not strong enough to get a trade-up, you’re easily cannibalised by a trade down.”

2. Embracing traditional parenting practices

Millennials who grew up in over-protective ‘helicopter parenting’ households will embrace more traditional elements of parenting practice, either through economic necessity or a deliberate intention to raise children differently from their parents. Concepts such as ‘re-wilding’ of children, allowing them to grow through experiences, good and bad, will find favour. Likewise, multi-generational or multi-family households will broaden the sphere of care.

3. Broader and more individual definitions of motherhood emerge

The ‘perfect mum’ image of the past is no longer en vogue as women choose to retain their pre-pregnancy individuality and find new families inspire new ideas and passions. Websites such as Etsy have created channels for entrepreneurial mums to create and monetise skills, whilst other women are choosing to start up new business whilst on maternity leave, a phenomenon best captured in the annual Mumprenuer Awards

4. Fatherhood becomes aspirational

The days of the clichéd ‘doofus dad’ portrayed in advertising are over, as men embrace a new definition of fatherhood. Paternity leave regulation is driving the change along with a collective realisation in men that they only have one chance to experience and shape the formative years of their child’s life. Celebrity father figures of note, such as David Beckham, provide public role models to support the change.

5. On-demand lifestyles will shape parents’ expectations

Growing up during the early boom of personalised and on-demand services, parents will naturally make digital their channel of choice, expecting customisation across all aspects of parental life as a standard service. Alternative distribution and transaction models such as peer-to-peer bartering services like ‘Swapaskill.com’ or monthly subscription services like ‘Kiwi Crate’ will force traditional retailers to innovate their service models to compete.

6.  Quantified-self becomes quantified families

With acceptance of quantified self as increasingly normal (for example, a TMS Emnid survey found 45% of Germans 14-29 use data to motivate them in their health), using personal data to customise nutrition and wellness solutions for children will become an emerging area of growth. Next generation measurement devices will analyse health and wellness data and suggest supplements to address nutrition or sleep deficiencies, allowing optimal child development.

Final word – a timeless insight still remains

Alongside these forces there is a timeless insight for brands to keep in mind. No matter how free parents of the future will be to ‘parent their way’, brands should still help reassure parents that they are ‘doing the right thing’. After all, no matter how much you plan and measure, parenting is and always has been, a rollercoaster ride!