Spotlight on Single Women


Think of the last advertisement or television show you saw depicting a single woman. Was she on a quest for love? At home living with her cat? A young, Carrie Bradshaw-ish woman who buys Manolo Blahniks and sips cocktails? Or . . . can’t think of an advertisement or show depicting a single woman?Rejecting the Old Maid image

The above examples illustrate common stereotypes about single women, many of which are perpetuated by marketing professionals. Such misconceptions about single women hamper efforts to connect with this group and tap into their purchasing power. That’s unfortunate, since over 51 million American women are single. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table!

To get your head around this demographic, let’s take a look at some stats:

• The vast majority of these single women are young: between ages 18 and 34.
• 15% of all single women have never been married, and the age of women’s first marriage is on the rise: In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26.
• 43% of ALL American women ages 45–70 are single, representing a large portion of the Boomer demographic.
• 67% of single women are Caucasian.
• 40% of children are born to single mothers.

And now a peek at their buying habits:
• Younger singles tend to be comfortable with technology, while older singles focus on luxury
• Single women are buying real estate like never before. They comprise more than 20% of home purchases. In comparison, single men make just 9% of home purchases.
• Single women make up 50% of all solo travelers
• 75% of single women own a car

Suggestions for Marketing to Single Women
To start with, try targeting your advertising message directly to single women. Take, for example, an advertisement for DeBeers diamonds: the ad showed a woman wearing a diamond on her right hand. The tagline, “Women of the World: Raise Your Right Hand,” suggested that you don’t need a man to buy you a diamond ring. The message was well received and the campaign was successful, increasing non-bridal ring sales by 15% in one year.

Or consider marketing to single women with messages of empowered feminity. Companies such as BlueQ and Smart Women accomplish this well through retro, quirky, girly messages that often strike an ironic tone. For example, BlueQ sells a “She Works Hard for the Money” coin purse and “Nope, Not Married Yet (Just Crazy I Guess)” gum, while locally owned Smart Women Company sells a “Smart Women Thirst For Knowledge” glass set.

Big-ticket items like real estate, automobile, finance, insurance and other industries that have traditionally been purchased—and marketed to—by men would do well to take note of the changing demographic and market to single women by portraying them as confident, educated consumers in their ads. Hiring women to be on the front lines as salespeople in these industries will also go a long way toward winning the business of single women.

In conclusion, I recall a sign I saw posted on the wall of a kickboxing gym once that said “While you’re not training, your competition is training to kick your [butt].” It might sound crass, but the truth is there: if you’re content in marketing to your same demographic, others may be busy seizing a portion of the market that’s underserved. If it makes good business sense, shouldn’t it be you?

Atlantic Monthly, November 2011: All the Single Ladies
Bridget Brennan, Why She Buys. Crown Publishing Group. 2009.
Laura Lake, Guide
Marketplace® American Public Radio™.  No advertising love for single women. Blog: Male marketers: Don’t Forget to Target the Single Woman

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