Despite ever rising living costs and the inability of many young adults to fly the nest while times are hard, the global trend towards smaller and less conventional household units continued apace over the review period, driven by lower marriage and fertility rates, ageing populations, rapid urbanisation and rising wealth in emerging markets. This new global report analyses household statistics and behaviour, and suggests how these may shape demand and impact marketers in the future.
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Household growth was most rapid in developing markets, such as Mexico, Malaysia, Venezuela, Thailand and Turkey, fuelled by rising incomes and a high level of urbanisation.
Despite the necessity for recession-hit families to combine households in order to save resources over the review period, globally, the overall trend towards single and two-person households and single-parent households continued.
Couples with children still accounted for the largest share of households, at 43%, but couples without children and single-person households increased their shares to almost 17% and 15%, respectively.
Between 2007 and 2012, the average number of household members remained static on a global level, at 3.7, although most countries experienced a slight decline.
At the same time, in more traditional societies, such as Malaysia, China, Venezuela, India and Turkey, where extended family structures are still common, single-person households represented less than 8% of the total.
The shift towards living solo is most pronounced in the big urban centres. It is estimated that more than 50% of households in Munich, Frankfurt and Paris are single, while in the US, single households were most common in Atlanta and Washington, DC in 2012.
One- and two-person households tend to have a steady source of income with no family responsibilities, and hence have significant potential for spending on discretionary items.
Two-person households consist mainly of “empty nesters” and DINKs (double income no kids). Empty nesters are thought to have become fewer since the start of the recession, as young people are staying longer in the family home due to a lack of job prospects.
In developing markets, multigenerational households, which were once the norm, are becoming less common as living standards rise and young people sever ties with families to move to cities in search of work
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