Advertising Week 2006

Modern Families Present Targeting Challenges to Marketers

Yahoo, OMD: Children, Females Have More Decision-Making Power

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Attention advertisers: Your target may not be who you think it is. And the audience is lot harder to reach. Thanks to portable media and multitasking behavior, the typical consumer packs an average of 43 hours worth of activity into a typical day.
Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo's chief sales officer, said modern families share purchasing decisions among their members in ways that families of past decades did not.
Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo's chief sales officer, said modern families share purchasing decisions among their members in ways that families of past decades did not.

More democratic
That was the message OMD and Yahoo had for marketers during their Advertising Week research presentation on the modern family. The family, according to the survey, is more democratic than ever, with children influencing 50% of all purchases.

"When you think of reaching decision makers you think about targeting a particular type of person. It's the classic 'father makes financial decisions' ... [or] if I'm Kraft or P&G and I have a food product then I'm traditionally going to target females," Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo's chief sales officer, said after the presentation.

But technology and changing family dynamics and makeup is increasingly allowing everyone in the household to have a say in buying decisions. For example, said Ms. Millard, if a travel marketer wanted to target her family to influence where they spend their next vacation, they'd do best to try to reach her two teenagers. And an airline would be smart to target her husband, who does most of the tactical travel planning.

The 'primary chef'
Another example: The survey found that 74% of women age 18 to 34 consider themselves their household's "primary chef," compared to 93% of women 35 to 54.

"A lot of that is backlash to previous generations where father knew best," said Michele Madansky, VP-sales research, Yahoo.

The study polled 4,500 online families in 16 countries with in-home interviews and scrapbooks that tracked media usage.

Among the study's other findings:

  • People on average pack 43 hours worth of activity into a typical day. On a global scale, 8.7 of those hours are spent with media; Americans spend the most time with media at 9.5 hours.

  • In the U.S., the average family has 11 technological devices. Globally, the average internet household has 2.4 TVs, two computers and 6.3 "other" devices, which could include digital cameras, GPS devices or DVRs.

  • The U.S. lags in DVR and MP3 use. MP3s are most highly used in China, at 72%, and Korea, at 73%. DVR use is highest in Mexico and the U.K. at 42%.

  • South Korea lags in e-mail use, primarily because blogging is so popular that many people communicate through messages in blogs.

  • Some 16% of adults say communication with their children has improved, thanks to instant messaging.
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