Are American family values in decline? Not so, says major study

NEW YORK, NY - As the holiday season kicks into high gear, families across the country will gather around the dinner table to celebrate what matters most to them in life – each other.

Are American family values in decline? Not so, says major study

NEW YORK, NY – As the holiday season kicks into high gear, families across the country will gather around the dinner table to celebrate what matters most to them in life – each other. This isn’t a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting or a nostalgic memory of years past, but rather a reality that is very much alive among American consumers, as indicated by the findings of MWW’s 2014 Matter More™ Project.

The Matter More™ Project, released today by MWW, one of the top-five global independent public relations firms, is one of the largest known studies of American life priorities to date. In it, values such as family, love, belonging and sense of self-purpose emerged as being profoundly more important to Americans than the priorities that we seemingly spend most of our day-to-day time on – things like “having a large and active social network,” “being fashionable,” or “competing to be the best.”

With the goal of delivering meaningful intelligence to marketers, business leaders and policymakers, MWW studied nearly 10,000 American adults to assess the relative importance of 48 distinct priorities across nearly every aspect of life, including work, technology, travel, health and family. Ten core life priorities were ranked the highest and emerged as the most important to Americans regardless of race, region, age or gender:

1. Spending time with your family
2. Being true to yourself
3. Feeling safe and secure
4. Standing up for what you believe in
5. Feeling loved
6. Having a sense of purpose
7. Being reliable
8. Feeling a sense of belonging in your daily life
9. Being self-reliant
10. Helping others

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“In an America that often seems highly fragmented, transient and fragmented, a core set of life priorities has emerged,” said David Herrick, chief operating officer of MWW. “Across all walks of life, the top-ten life priorities are consistent and pervasive. These priorities are the starting point for companies and policymakers to find common ground when communicating with the American people.”

In contrast to the ten core life priorities, there were a number of priorities that fell within the bottom half of the list, including having an active sex life, enjoying good food, making a lot of money, maintaining privacy, staying at the forefront of technology and having a large and active social network. The study also found that the American culture is engrossed in the self-proclaimed Digital Age, posting selfies and photos of meals to social media in an effort to get as many “likes” as possible. Ultimately, what Americans spend time on doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the things that matter most; rather, it reaffirms that traditional American values are alive and well among today’s consumers – something marketers looking to maximize engagement can play up to.

“Success today requires good data to create unique insights,” said Jess Seilheimer, chief strategy officer at MWW. “We need to understand what consumers truly prioritize in life in order to form an emotional connection with them. Our new Matter More™ Project allows us to put a lens on what matters most (and least) to consumers and develop more relevant brand communication strategies.”

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