// New M&S survey finds 50% of Brits believe the make-up of family is unrecognisable compared to 20 years ago
// Changing views about families to influence product opportunities and marketing ideas
// People are increasingly broadening their views about families and this is influencing consumer behaviour
A new survey conducted by Marks & Spencer has shown how shifting ideas and values on what constitutes a family influences consumption habits and behaviour.
M&S today launched the first of its new quarterly Family Matters Index reports, designed to identify what family means today, why family matters and what matters to families now.
Conducted by Yonder Consulting, the first benchmark study combines qualitative and quantitative research with over 10,000 people from across the UK.
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Key findings show that over half of people (55 per cent) believe that family is defined more by who you feel close to than by biology – increasing to 72 per cent for those aged 18-24.
The survey also found that half of the UK agree that “the make-up of families is unrecognisable compared with 20 years ago”, while 90 of respondents said they felt part of a family.
Due to the pandemic, around 79 per cent of Brits now believe family is more important than ever, 40 per cent of respondents said their family has never been stronger, while three times as many people felt closer to their family than a year ago.
The Family Matters Index report had a benchmark score of 55 out of 100, which M&S said demonstrated “a cautious optimism” about family prospects for the future as the UK emerges from the pandemic.
The high street stalwart said it would regularly track and measure the optimism of families and compare across different representative groups, and that this would form part of its wider transformation scheme – which has a focus on being relevant to consumers.
M&S said the new tracker was just one way of helping the retailer deliver on products, ranges and services that respond to families’ needs and changing consumer behaviours.
This includes expanding its range of value staple lines, extending its activewear range to men and children, and include vegan products and expand marketing opportunities for celebratory occasions like Easter, Christmas, Passover, Eid, Chinese New Year and Ramadan.
M&S also said it would develop “easy dressing” adaptive clothing ranges that support specific needs, including specially made hip dysplasia clothes, feeding tube clothing and zip-up bodysuits.
The retailer said it would also strive to address sustainability concerns in its Plan A multi-year action plan, through the launch of sustainable fashion ranges, using less water, increasing food redistribution, tackle modern slavery, and extending its climate change commitment from carbon neutral operations it has today to reach a net zero emissions status by 2035.
“We’ve launched the new Family Matters Index to obtain and share a deeper understanding of how the UK’s families are feeling and what they’re doing,” M&S communications director Victoria McKenzie-Gould said.
“M&S serves around 30 million customers and our products help families make more of the everyday and mark the special moments we can all relate to – whether it’s a first day at school or milestone birthday.
“Whilst we are first and foremost a retailer, we’re not only a retailer and for many we are an employer, partner and a neighbour – and we take that role seriously.
“Through the quarterly index we want to stay close to families across the UK so we can deliver our promise of trusted value on the things that matter to them most.
“The findings of this first study reveal that family is more important than ever, and in a year when we have all spent so much time apart, it has brought us closer in ways we could never have imagined.
“We often talk about the M&S family and through the pandemic it’s been incredible to see how our colleagues have pulled together in support of each other.
“As this report tells us, family is not always about set structures or blood relationships, but the feelings of support, trust and loyalty we feel from those closest to us.”
M&S said the next Family Matters Index and report will be published in September.