Research: Why The "Nope, Don't Want Kids" Sentiment Is Growing

Marketers looking to reach “families” need to quickly shake off old perceptions of what that looks like.

A new global study from McCann Worldgroup Truth Central finds that around the world, people are growing increasingly candid about their family choices. And they expect brands to understand the complex realities behind their decisions.

More than half of the survey, which included 55,000 people in 28 markets, are questioning whether to have children. And one in three around the world has already decided not to. It’s much higher in Canada, at 60%, followed by 53% in the U.K., 52% in France, and 51% in the U.S. and Germany.

The declining birth rate among millennials has been evident for some time. What’s notable is a new transparency in how people talk about it.

“This is the first generation who can speak openly about this idea that they can foresee a happy life without children,” says Nadia Tuma-Weldon, global head of thought leadership at McCann Worldgroup. 



She says respondents often cite costs as a reason for not having kids but say maintaining their independence is equally important.

More proof of a growing candor? An increasing number of people who did have children are looking at those choices differently, with 47% saying they’ve questioned their decision to have children, even if for a minute.

“And those are just those that admit it,” Tuma-Weldon adds. “I suspect the real number is higher.”

While some might regard that as negative, she doesn’t.

“There's just so much more transparency about the highs and the lows, the messiness and the chaos of raising a family. People say things like, 'It’s the best decision I ever made and the toughest,’” she tells Marketing Daily.

The research included parents, non-parents, pet owners, and LGBTQ people in 28 markets. It’s the latest evolution of the research company’s longstanding peek into the private lives of parents.

She says cultural differences still play a decisive role in these perceptions.

Indian parents, for example, are both most likely to question having children (68%) and are also the highest (83%) in saying everyone is responsible for having kids. (In the U.S., only 21% of parents believe that.)

Yet even in China, a country that has been expanding its one-child policies and encouraging women to have more children, “women are saying, 'No, I want to have a career and my independence.’ There is an interesting tension between the forces of power and money and the forces of female empowerment.”

For brands, it’s crucial to dig deeper, creating more nuanced brand stories. It calls for a greater recognition of the “child-free by choice” segment.

“Too often, they’re either dismissed or ignored,” Tuma-Weldon says.

By 2030, that group is projected to be the highest household spenders “with very different financial dynamics.”

Marketers also need to recognize that many people live in families of choice rather than families of birth.

But brands must even brush up on their thinking when targeting conventional families.

“Parents flat-out said, 'Don't talk at me like I'm a parent. It's the least useful and least interesting way for you to talk to me. I am a human, and I have needs, wants, desires and behaviors outside of just raising a child,’” says Tuma-Weldon.

Some companies, such as Ikea, seem better at finding these nuanced stories than others, and the way families are evolving into ecosystems, with different members playing different team roles.

One of Tuma-Weldon’s favorite examples is U.S. Bank, a McCann client.

In developing its Spanish-speaking app, the bank discovered the many ways young children often become translators of complex financial information in immigrant families. The company developed that idea into “Translators,” a short documentary film, which just won Best Short Documentary at the Tribeca Festival.

"It’s a great example of communicating complex family stories, creating products and brand identity to understand people better,” she says.

1 comment about "Research: Why The "Nope, Don't Want Kids" Sentiment Is Growing".
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  1. Clark Celmayster from Endeavor, September 11, 2023 at 4:41 p.m.

    Considering the lazy crazy leftist ideologies of millenials and the Woke marxist indoctrination children are receiving to day, unless that changes, who wants their kids? That is why some animals eat their young!

    Time for conservatives to out populate the communists!

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