The modern family is changing: childlessness in particular has nearly doubled in the last 30 years. A generation ago in the UK 11% of women aged 45 were childless, while today that has risen to one in five (18%).
Welcome to “Otherhood”. The term was introduced by Melanie Notkin in her 2014 study of women who don’t have children – either by choice or by circumstance, and more recently cultural insight agency BAMM conducted research looking into both women and men who have actively chosen not to have children.
Otherhood embodies those who do not have children because they have chosen other priorities: namely change and mobility. They appreciate the value of not needing to set down roots, with the added benefit of keeping their carbon footprint low by not having kids.
For marketers Otherhooders are the favourite “Aunts” and “Uncles” who have money to spare and to spend.
To appeal to the group it’s all about inclusivity, and normalising an often stigmatised lifestyle choice. Otherhooders are particularly attracted to brands that support their restless lifestyles. Brands will need to cater to flexibility such as the various ‘rent a dog’ platforms and subscription services like Zipcar.
Otherhooders want to improve themselves and gather valuable life experiences – so brands have an opportunity to offer experience and learning as part of their service.
On the other hand motherhood is increasingly being ‘seen’ in society. Whilst Meghan Markle may be one of the most famous pregnant women at the moment, she embodies a very traditional, pristine image of being “with child”, while the future seems much more unruly.
Waves of the new dawn of motherhood have been afoot for many years, with celebs regularly making an event of posting their bare-all pregnancy pics.
Cultural signals of pregnancy and motherhood have taken a defiant turn more recently. Notably, Slick Woods walked the 2018 Fenty show while having contractions, and model, Valaria Garcia, strutted the runway wearing a breast pump in the same year.
No longer is motherhood a distinct segment of a woman’s life, and one be sanitised. The future says it will be in your face and unapologetic.
Brands should adapt to this new world – whether targeting this group specifically or not they should be sensitive to the understanding that a modern family no longer means two parents and 2.4 children.
For more from the Cultural Insights Forum on the make-up of the modern family, get in touch.