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All The Single Ladies

Jamie Allebach
Jamie Allebach Chief Executive & Creative Officer

Okay, it’s a great song (and, coincidentally, great YouTube video of a dancing baby in diapers). But why do I bring it up here?

As a little song-and-dance segue (sorry) to our real topic — the rise of the single, unattached consumer. It’s a trend that’s been building since the sixties… and now it’s reached the tipping point.

Let’s back up a bit. In 1960, roughly 7 out of 10 American adults aged 18 or older (72%) were married. 1980, 62%. And in 2000, 57%.

Jump ahead to 2014, and now only 49.8% are married. Pretty sobering, considering most advertising and marketing efforts are still based on outdated strategies only targeting consumers in marital (or at the very least, romantic) relationships. What are the consequences of following these flawed strategies?

Missing out on the $567 BILLION in spending power now controlled by U.S. singles. Food marketers and manufacturers take note: after a decade of downsizing product sizes for empty nesters with two-person households, nearly 1/3 of households in major metropolitan households are comprised of single people with no extra mouths to feed. No reason to stock up, fill the fridge for family dinners, or buy anything at all that they do not personally want or need.

And it’s up to you, dear friends, to figure out exactly what those wants and needs are.

The majority of today’s marketing and retail strategies still presume family-centric households with “mom” as the decision maker. And given that today’s households are now evenly split between singles and couples/family units, that’s only a 50/50 chance of reaching the right audience. Not great odds — and considering there’s $567 million in singles’ income up for grabs, well worth doing something about.

For starters, don’t offend singles with offers they can’t take advantage of because they’re sized and priced for two or more people. And, as single does not necessarily mean solo, ditto for targeting only moms (or dads) in your “single parent” brand communications. It’s easy to test both, and you should be A/B/n testing anyway.

Don’t assume living single means less discretionary income, either. According to a 2015 special report published by TPN and C+R Research, the median yearly household income reported by general population survey respondents was a bit over $90,000. That figure includes all household sizes… and for households of two or more members, proportionately less money per person to go around. Single-household median income, on the other hand, was a bit over $70,000 per year — with only one person deciding how and when to spend it.

If you do the math, singles are a pretty good target for any brand… especially now that they make up over half the population. And since they’re so poorly represented in current marketing tactics, it’s a sure bet they’ll connect positively with brands that understand and acknowledge their lifestyle, speaking directly to them.

To wrap up with another song, One isn’t the loneliest number any more. But it may be the only-est number you need to keep in mind when you create your next break-through marketing campaign.

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