Targeting “WE” versus “ME”

Here are some excerpts from an article that appeared in The Economist last December that will impact house-hold marketing and advertising because the model that describes H.H. occupancy, income, age along with brand use and attitudes are changing rapidly.    

  • The pandemic may be encouraging people to live in larger groups.
  • In Britain households where couples share with at least one other adult were the fastest-growing type in the two decades to 2019. 
  • In Canada 6% of the population lived in multigenerational households by 2016, and it was the fastest-growing type of living. 
  • By 2016 20% of Australia’s 24.5m people were living with others from outside their immediate family, a 42% increase on 15 years earlier.
  • Almost two thirds of households are extended family ones in Senegal. Extended families provide a safety net where the state does not, pooling cash to pay medical bills and letting jobless nephews eat from the communal pot. 
  • In America the share of households made up of married couples with children halved between 1970 and 2019. People are marrying less and later. Marriages are less likely than they were to last until death.
  • The West has seen a dramatic rise in single-person households. From France to Japan, they make up over a third of the total number. In Germany they account for 40% of the total, in Finland 41%.
  • In Britain, the average house costs more than eight times the average salary, up from four times in the mid-1990s. Homes are less affordable for single women, who earn less than men. The number of older divorcees who live alone has gone up. In the absence of new construction, this squeezes the supply for younger people, who are less wealthy. “As more people lose their jobs [because of the pandemic] or have their pay or their hours cut, sharing a household with more people is a way to pay the bills,”.
  • Companies have jumped on this opportunity. The Collective, a British outfit, runs three co-living buildings, one in New York and two in London. Its “members”, whose average tenancy is nine months, live in studio flats but share lounges, gyms and a roster of events from cocktail-mixing to running clubs. The firm has another 9,000 units in development.
  • Although urban buildings run by the likes of The Collective are aimed mainly at young, single professionals, the types of people seeking to live this way are growing more diverse. The Collective houses people aged 18 to 67 years old (the average is 30). A survey by Build Asset Management, a British firm that runs serviced accommodation, said that in the year to June 2020 it saw a 136% rise in inquiries about shared rental accommodation from couples. 
  • An American company, last year opened two buildings in New York designed for families rather than singles or couples. Would-be residents can choose an apartment with up to four bedrooms and access to communal facilities and services, including a play area and nannies.
  • The most experimental housing today involves multiple generations of unrelated people who did not get a say on whom they lived with. Perhaps unsurprisingly it is found in Scandinavia. Some 60% of the residents of the 51 apartments in Sällbo, a public-housing project in the Swedish town of Helsingborg, are over 70. The other 40% are young people, half of them refugees. Residents must pass an interview to get into the community, and sign a contract to spend two hours per week socializing with neighbours. This could mean sitting in a shared lounge reading a book or doing shopping for one of the older members. The project is to run for two years. If it is judged successful, tenants will be given permanent homes.

NOTE: The full article appeared in the Economist International print edition on December 5th, 2020 under the headline "Nuclear retreat".