CHICAGO: Brands stand to benefit from representing the changing nature of the American family in their ads, according to a new study.

Mintel, the insights provider, suggested that as grandparents are increasingly involved in bringing up their grandchildren and more same-sex couples become parents, marketers must engage these "new families".

Gretchen Grabowski, travel and leisure analyst at Mintel, said: "As more Americans raise children in multi-generational households, they are pushing the envelope on what it means to be a family."

Based on a survey of adults in such "multigenerational families", the organisation discovered they had boosted their outlay on children in a range of categories to a greater extent than when assessing all parents.

Fully 61% had enhanced spending rates on groceries for kids measured against last year, a total reaching 51% for clothing and accessories, as well as 43% for footwear and 40% for personal care.

"This opens the door for marketers to target multi-generational families, and perhaps specifically grandparents that may have a more pronounced role in raising – and spending money on – their grandchildren," Grabowski said.

A 58% majority of this demographic often splashed out "more than they should" on non-essential items for children, and 33% would increase overall expenditure levels to keep up with the latest trends.

Exactly 50% expressed a desire to be better-represented in TV and print ads, and 35% agreed seeing people similar to them in communications was likely to improve their purchase intent for the goods and services concerned.

"Marketing efforts to include non-traditional families in advertising resonate with these demographics," said Grabowski. "Brands that do the most to acknowledge varied household settings are the ones that are going to get ahead."

This outcome could be especially beneficial given that many grandparents and same-sex couples have above-average spending power, she added.

Earlier this year, an ad for Cheerios featuring a multicultural family yielded a critical reaction from a small, if vocal, segment of the online audience. It also prompted a debate about social attitudes that included General Mills, which makes the cereal.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff