The Family Life Cycle (FLC)

Teaching Notes for this Marketing Activity

Preferred format: This teaching activity can be discussed in pairs, or in small groups of students.
Student audience: This exercise is more suitable for students of introductory marketing students studying consumer behavior or marketing strategy.
Exercise time: The exercise time should be around 10 minutes, plus any additional time for an overall class discussion.
Additional resources: For more information on the family life cycle. Please review the Market Segmentation Study Guide.

Student Task

The family life cycle (FLC) used to be a very effective way of segmenting the market and predicting future needs. While it is less somewhat effective today because of the increased diversify and volatility of family structures, it still provides reasonable value to marketers in a number of industries.

However, your key task in this activity is to ‘update’ the traditional family life cycle, taking into account the trend in family structures.

 Here is a basic model of the traditional family life cycle:


And here is a list of trends/changes occurring in this traditional cycle/path:

  • Some people do not have children (or have later)
  • People are marrying later
  • Some people never marry
  • Some people live together (de facto) before marriage
  • Divorce is becoming more common
  • Therefore, single parent families are more common
  • People remarry (some several times)
  • More blended families (children from


  1. Redesign the traditional family life cycle, given some of today’s lifestyle choices/situations.
  2. How effective do you think that your revised model will be for marketers? Why/why not?
  3. What product categories would be more suited to using family life cycle as a segmentation base?
  4. How effective would your model be for predicting future needs of customers?