If it didn't yet seem official enough for you, the findings of the US Census Bureau "2005 American Community Survey," make it so: Unmarried people lead 50.3 percent of U.S. households, while married couples lead 49.7 percent....
Sure, the definition of single may be a gray area (some are co-habiting or partnered in un-official ways), but I think it's worth noting the bigger picture in those numbers. Things are shifting societally, and very few marketers have really taken notice.
I'm exploring the topic of solo women, in particular, for a writing project these days, and the marketing potential seems endless. Especially if you approach via "transparent marketing" - what my co-author and I wrote about in Don't Think Pink. (What's covered in the book really isn't only about the women's market, by the way - you can apply it to any market.) There are many ways you might reach unmarried women more effectively.
A quick "transparent" look:
First, marketers should narrow their focus (as so many have already set their sights on urban moms, for example) to a particular segment of unmarried women. Not all unmarried women out there are 25 and never-married with no kids - right?
Then, you have to take the time and make the effort to get to really know that group of single women, or "customer community," well. (Packaged food marketers were paying attention with the release of single servings, for example, but there's much to be done otherwise.)
And, you need to be joining their conversations and inviting/encouraging feedback right from the start... and so on, in order to understand their language, their dreams, and the nuances of their buying processes. (See Don't Think Pink for the remaining transparent marketing guidelines.)
When you lean in a bit with your magnifying lens, you might even see countertrends to the larger trend of, say, mommy-hood. Lots of the moms you want to serve may be divorced or separated, in fact. So, how does that change the way they buy? How amazed might they be if you reflected an understanding of that in your marketing - especially for big-ticket items (cars, appliances)?
Now, I am not suggesting that you advertise "cars for unmarried women, here," as that's not transparent or effective. Rather, I'm suggesting that there are subtleties that you can leverage - and only by really understanding your particular market of unmarried women will you find those.
Another example: what about all the very active, mature unmarried women out there? Do you approach them mainly as half of a partnership, or do you speak to the independent lives they are really living? There are huge financial service and travel industry implications when you take a closer look.
And, my personal favorite: single women and homeownership. I love the Leatherman all-in-one tools, for example, but I think I only know about them because of my years living in Oregon (the company is based in Portland). I see huge potential in transparent marketing to unmarried homeowning women for that product, and many other related tools and gadgets.
But, it isn't just about single women, because when you learn to market more effectively to us - solo men will also be likely to appreciate smaller servings of food and homegoods, more applicable house size/layout options, and many of the same things.
So, especially if you are happily living a more traditional, married lifestyle, and it seems like all your friends and associates are too - let this American Community Survey expand your marketing mind. There are a lot of us single people in the U.S. with money to spend who'd love to be considered more than a minority to your brand.
A recent article in the Dayton Daily News is worth reading if this topic is of interest. And, if you market a product or service and unmarried women are a focus, I'd love to hear what you are up to. Please email me at andrea @ learnedonwomen.com .
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