Time Inc. Archives

New Study by OMD UK and Time Inc. UK Reveals the Future of Families

Nov 19, 2014

NEW YORK, November 19, 2014 – The Future of Families, a major new research project from OMD UK and Time Inc. UK, reveals the changing face of the British family, with 2 in 3 people believing one size no longer fits all.


The study of 4,000 Britons highlights new behaviours, attitudes and values within the family unit, proving that the archetypal 2.4 family average is now a definite thing of the past.


2.4 No More


“Family is an idea, not an institution”


Among the key trends identified, the study showed “family” is a more fluid term than ever, consisting of much more than a mum, dad and siblings. 19% of people include friends as part of their family nucleus, while 36% include in-laws and 29% believe pets are part of the family. 50% believe there simply won’t be a stereotypical family structure in future.


As the definition of family changes, so too do typical family roles. Parents in particular now share more of the day-to-day responsibilities and decision making for the family, showing that the traditional roles for mum and dad have expanded. 




 When compared to Time Inc. UK’s Origin Lounge figures from 2008, parents are sharing key decisions on:




Childcare and upbringing, up from 54% to 67%

Working and earning money, up from 34% to 41%

Shopping decisions, up from 24% to 33%



United Under Pressure


“Family support is now mutual”


The cost of living is the foremost financial pressure for 68% of British families, while 31% worry about paying their rent or mortgage each month and 15% about getting on the housing ladder. But financial pressures have triggered the development of broader, more powerful family support networks. 


Traditionally, childcare was mum’s responsibility, but grandparents are now stepping into a new role within the family as child-minders, becoming more integral than ever before and helping to alleviate some of the financial strain.




64% of grandparents are called on to look after their grandchildren in a typical week 82% of “grandminders” are more than happy to help

Only 15% of grandparents are paid, treated or receive something in return



OMD UK’s The Future of Britain study, launched in 2013, previously identified Generation Rent, a demographic of young adults who are unable to leave home while job-hunting or who are priced out of the house market. In The Future of Families study, 77% agree children will be living at home longer in the future. In 2014, while Generation Rent has added a significant financial burden to families, it has also had a positive impact, bringing them closer and contributing to a mutual flow of family decision making and support:




18% of families with children living at home say they don’t argue at all while 41% argue less than once a month

Children are as appreciative of family time as their elders with 67% of 16-24-year-olds holding family occasions close to heart against 67% of 35-54-year-olds

Children have become a source of emotional support for 1 in 3 parents

36% of 16-24s have advised their parents on a major life decision



Despite financial pressures, Britons have learnt to cope with their increasing financial burdens, with a number of cost-saving mechanisms becoming a daily part of families’ lives:




60% of mums today have swapped products to save money (up from 47% in 2009)

24% of mums think they will be financially better off in the coming year, compared to just 13% in 2011

63% of women now budget their finances more carefully (up from 43% in 2009)



Virtual Families


“Technology is here to stay and will impinge on family conversations but inspire in equal measure”


This increasingly communicative nature of family life has also been amplified by technology. Even though technology triggers concern for parents, such as sharing personal information (68%) and privacy (67%), 78% instinctively believe that technology is not disruptive in the home and actually has the power to bring families closer together:




68% see watching TV together as valued family time

“The increasing presence of mobile and tablet devices within the household and adoption of a ‘stack and snack’ approach to how we consume media and content, has actually brought families back into the living room together” Rian Shah, managing partner strategy, OMD UK

Increased real-time communication brought about by social media networks like Twitter means it is now more important to watch TV as it happens, bringing the family together and sparking different conversations:

“Technology is here to stay and will impinge on family conversations but inspire in equal measure” Catherine Westwood, group editor, Essentials and Good to Know

While children are absorbed by technology, party-style games consoles and movies on demand make it easy to find things for the whole family to do



Families of the future


“In the future, families will have a lot more support, they’ll become stronger and closer” 


When asked how they see family life in the future, research participants expressed an overtly positive outlook. Whilst concerns about a squeezed middle generation who will care for grandparents, grown-up children and grandchildren was expressed, the majority believe families will become closer together and life will improve: 22% believe family life will be better in the future compared to just 9% who think it will get worse. 


The younger generations have the most positive attitude towards future family life:




58% of 16-24s would bring up their own children in the same way that they had been raised

25% of 16-24s expect family life to improve



“The family of the future will continue to face various pressures – financial, practical, emotional – but what’s important is how they deal with these pressures to maintain the strength of their family unit. The coping mechanisms, support networks and shared decision making that we are witnessing suggests that families will increasingly operate in a fluid, united and more connected model, regardless of whether they are under the same roof.”


Rian Shah, managing partner of strategy, OMD UK


“We need to stop ourselves thinking about the family solely in terms of the traditional 2.4 unit, the Future of Families research proves that reality has moved on and will continue to evolve. It’s encouraging to see that family is as important as ever – government, businesses and brands should take note of its changing face, behaviours and needs in order to effectively communicate with families across Britain today and in the future.” 


Lynne Springett, insight director, Time Inc. UK




About the Future of Families


The Future of Families is a collaborative research project from OMD UK and Time Inc. UK and the latest instalment of OMD UK’s proprietary research initiative the Future of Britain. The Future of Families set out to examine in-depth what the future British family will look like, the impact of technology on the home and the changing role of media. 


In addition to utilising OMD UK and Time Inc. UK’s in-house research panels – respectively, OMD Snapshots and the Origin Lounge – the research includes expert interviews with Time Inc. UK editors and two quantitative studies talking to a total of 4,000 people across Britain. This was also complemented by a number of qualitative in-home interviews with family members in different types of household ranging from Boomerang, Empty Nesters, Single parents, Multi-Generational households, and parents of both older and younger children. 


About OMD UK 


OMD UK is a media communications agency committed to delivering sharper insights, smarter ideas and stronger results. As part of a global OMD network of 8,500+ people in over 120 offices, OMD UK is committed to delivering insights that unlock demand potential, ideas that ignite consumer desire and results that accelerate business growth for our clients. OMD is a dynamic, creative and influential agency network, the most awarded in the world. OMD UK is home of the Future of Britain research initiative and works with a diverse range of national and international brands including McDonald’s, Boots, Heinz, Disney, Peugeot, Citroën, PepsiCo, easyJet, WeightWatchers, Hasbro, Channel 4, the NSPCC and SSE. 


About Time Inc. UK


Time Inc. UK is Britain’s leading publisher of print and digital magazine content. With more than 60 iconic brands – including Decanter, Country Life, Horse & Hound, NME, What’s on TV and Wallpaper* – Time Inc. UK (formerly IPC Media) creates content for multiple platforms, across print, online, mobile, tablets and experiences.


About OMD Snapshots


OMD Snapshots is a monthly online survey answered by a nationally representative sample of 1000 UK adults. The survey can host up to 30 questions and boasts a quick turnaround time, taking approximately 3 days to go from questionnaire to results tables.


About The Origin Lounge


Time Inc. UK’s The Origin Lounge launched in 2007 as The Origin Panel. It provides a continuous dialogue with a nationally representative community of approximately 4,000 women across the UK 


Gold winner at the FIPP Research Awards 2014 for Connected Consumers (2014)


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