Family Life Cycle

The concept of family or household life cycle has proven very valuable for the marketer, especially for segmentation activities. This article will describe the concept and discuss its application to consumer behavior and marketing strategy.

Traditional Life cycle stages:

The term life cycles refers to the progression of stages through which individuals and families proceed over time. In the United States, the following stages are typical of the family life cycle progression:

1. The Bachelor Stage: young, single people.
2. Newly Married Couples: young no children.
3. Full Nest I: young married couples with youngest child under 6
4. Full nest II: young married couples with youngest child 6 or over
5. Full Nest III: older married couples with dependent children
6. Empty Nest I: older married couples with no children living with them and household head in labor force.
7. Empty Nest II: older married couples with no children living with them and household head retired.
8. Solitary Survivor I: older single people in labor force.
9. Solitary Survivor II: older retired single people.

With the life cycle concept the marketer is able to appreciate better how the family’s needs outlooks product purchases and financial resources vary over time. The major family life cycle stages are further described below:

Bachelor Stage: At this stage of the life cycle earnings are relatively low because the individual is often just beginning a career. In spite of a low income, there are also few financial burdens which must be assumed; consequently discretionary income is quite high. This group is generally recreation oriented and high on fashion opinion leadership. As a result, purchase patterns consist of vacations, cars clothing and various other products and services needed for the mating game. In addition, they established their own residence away from their family usually requires the purchase of some furniture and kitchen equipment.

Newly married couples: This group is generally better off financially than when they were single because both spouses are likely to be working. They are also healthier financially than they will be in the next stage, which brings added demands on their resources. But for now this family has the highest purchase rate and the highest average purchase of durable goods especially furniture and appliances. They also spend heavily on cars, clothing and vacations.

Full Nest I: When the first child is born many wives have traditionally stopped working, which cause a reduction in family income. At the same time new demands are added to the family’s purchasing requirements. For examples, the increased family size may necessitate more space so the family moves into a new home and purchases items necessary to fill their new environment. Furniture for the baby’s room and other furnishings are bought, as well such appliances as a washer, dryer, and television set. In addition, many child related expenses are now added, including baby food, baby medicines, doctor’s visits and toys of all sorts. The parents are quite interested in new products and are susceptible to things they see advertised. However, they also grow more dissatisfied with their financial position and the amount of money available for savings.

Full Nest II: In this stage the family’s financial position has improved with the husband’s advancement and perhaps too the wife’s return to work. . Families in this stage are still new product oriented but tend be less influenced by advertising because they have more buying experience. Products heavily purchased during this time include many foods (especially in larger packages and multiple unit deals) cleaning materials, bicycles, musical instruments and lessons.

Full nest III: During this stage, the family’s income continues to advance more. Wives return to work, and even the children may be employed. Although they are more resistant to advertising, this type of family has a high average expenditure for durable goods, primarily because of their needs to replace older items. They purchase new, more tasteful furniture, luxury appliances boats and automobiles. They also do more traveling and spend more on dental bills and magazines. —