The rise of the single-person household was one of the most influential trends to affect the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market in recent decades. But now there’s a new trend in the opposite direction – one that may have even greater impact, not just for that industry, but right across the UK business spectrum, says William Higham, founder and chief executive of consumer trends consultancy Next Big Thing
A combination of economic, social and medical factors is now driving growth in household size. High house and rent prices mean increasing numbers of young people can’t afford to leave home. Even those in the 25-34 age bracket are now three times more likely to live in the parental home than on their own. And a perfect storm of low interest rates and increased longevity means many pensioners are finding it harder to survive on their own. According to new stats, 750,000 households in Britain are now composed of three generations – the highest figure ever recorded in the UK.
This ‘Famwich’ trend (a ‘family sandwich’, with parents in the middle) has enormous implications. I ran trend workshops with senior management at the recent UNA insurance industry conference on the topic. In just a few minutes, delegates identified a huge range of threats and opportunities, across industries.
In future, will all three generations eat together? If so, who will buy food for the family: children, parents or grandparents? How will the ‘family holiday’ change if parents are accompanied by 20- and 60-somethings and which new destinations and activities will appeal? Might children and grandparents give up their own car and borrow the family one? If so, will future families own, say, one estate and one sports car? As more stay-at-home children pay into the household coffers, will there be more interest in family-friendly financial packages? What about mobile phone, insurance and utilities packages?
As the trend – and household size – grows, businesses that can accurately answer such questions will find themselves with a distinct competitive advantage.