Over the past 50 years there have been significant changes to the family structure. When combined with the explosion of online and social shopping, the ways that families shop today has totally transformed.

To stay ahead, retailers must consider the implications and respond accordingly. Here are three developments that are influencing today’s family shopper..

Less disposable cash
The impact of the recession and the hike in living costs has had a major influence on family shopping habits – it’s reported that the average UK family is now £160 a year worse off, which I feel is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mums and dads are working more, feel time pressured and low on cash, so they arelooking for convenience and value as well as a compelling reason to buy, simply and quickly.

However, families aren’t necessarily looking to buy the cheapest, but seek better value and will buy less overall to compensate. Valuenomics has become the buzz word for 2012 and retailers should consider bundling products together to offer better value, and products that have multiple uses or a long shelf life.

Bigger role for dad
The rise in mums going back to work has meant more dads are stepping in to the childcare breach and have an increased role in family life. It’s no surprise that there has been a 200% increase in the amount of time that fathers are spending with their children – in 1974 they spent just eight minutes a day, in 2000 this increased to 25 minutes.

While not forgetting that for the majority, mum remains at the heart of the family, to stay in touch retailers should consider dad and the role he plays. Messages shouldn’t be solely female-focused – dad may well be doing the weekly shop while mum works late!

Popularity of mobile shopping
Mobile shopping is particularly prevalent among mums as most work, are time poor, information hungry and constantly multitasking. Quite simply, mobile devices provide convenient access to knowledge.

The line between sales channels is blurring. High street retailers can no longer charge a premium as people can touch products, speak to staff – get the benefits of a store – yet buy from a competitor online. Retailers should create synergy with competitive pricing or price matching and take advantage of technology and media rich POS.

The changing shape of families alone can have a huge effect on shopper behaviour and anything retailers can do to reflectthis will help them better connect with this elusive market.

Sue Benson