How Businesses Can Benefit from Growing Single Population

With more and more people putting off marriage, getting divorced, or staying unmarried, there are a lot of single people out there. According to the 2016 census, single-person households are the most common living arrangements in Canada for the first time in history. And while that might sound concerning for the population of this country, this shift means an opportunity for many businesses.

Society as we know it is traditionally geared towards families, though the single demographic is one of the fastest-growing, not just in Canada but around the world. If businesses can tap into this growing market, it could be hugely profitable. Here are some of the ways that businesses can benefit from a burgeoning single population.


Adjust Your Business or Service

The vacation industry has been traditionally dominated by families and couples, but a growing number of travel companies are adjusting their services to accommodate solo travellers. Tracey Nesbitt, editor of Solo Traveler magazine, says demand for solo travel has exploded among both millennials and baby boomers, particularly women. Some travel firms have responded to the increased interest by offering more single rooms and waiving singles’ supplement charges. There are also companies that offer communal dining tables and happy-hour reception while allowing solo travellers to pair up in rooms and even meet online before the journey. Since launching in 2015, Transat’s collection of solo packages has nearly doubled to include 19 sun destinations and 39 resorts in 10 countries, welcoming about 8,000 solo vacationers a year.

Adjusting your product or service to suit the needs of a shifting population can positively impact your business. For example, Canadian supermarket chains now dedicate more floorspace to ready-made food because it appeals to busy, well-off singles. According to Sylvain Charlebois, professor of Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie University, adjustments like these “serve a market and substantially increases margins.” Additionally, because singles are more likely to dine out, packaged foods must be of a higher quality than in years past and marketed to seem more appealing. Restaurants also need to consider the solo diner when creating their menus and even creating their floorplans, with increasing numbers of customers seeking to eat alone.

Businesses related to housing should also be mindful of changing trends. Nearly four million Canadians now live alone, Statistics Canada reports, and 28% of them live in condominiums. The growing number of Canadians living alone has coincided with the increase in condo construction. Businesses in real estate or housing development would do well to create more single-person units rather than focusing too heavily on family dwellings.


Marketing to Singles

Single people tend to have more free time and disposable income than people in relationships or with families. As one of the fastest-growing demographics in Canada, businesses should capitalize on this marketing opportunity. In order to market to singles, you need to understand them. However, unlike most demographic groups, singles aren’t defined by age, income, or gender, so there’s no one-size-fits-all marketing model. For example, the two largest groups of singles are aged 18-24 and unmarried, and people 55 and older who are widowed or divorced. These are two very different groups with very different needs and interests, and therefore must be marketed to accordingly; though they’re both single, a 22-year-old new to the workforce living in their first apartment will have vastly different priorities than a 60-year-old retiree who’s been divorced for a decade.

Companies should also be mindful of how they portray singlehood in their marketing and the risks involved with poor execution. In the past, single people have been portrayed in media and marketing as lonely or pathetic, unable to find someone. According to Eric Klinenberg, sociologist at New York University and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, singlehood is an empowering choice. “Living alone helps us pursue sacred modern values – individual freedom, personal control, and self-realization,” he writes. When marketing to singles, make them feel seen; even something as simple as not excluding them from marketing can be enough. Seemingly small steps, like not having every adult in an ad wearing a wedding ring or appearing as part of a couple, can go a long way.


Take Advantage of Trends

Single people are often more connected through social media and other networks, spending almost 30 more minutes a week socializing than married people, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. “Evidence suggests that people who live alone compensate by becoming more socially active,” Klinenberg writes. In addition to being a fast-growing demographic with disposable income, singles are also economically powerful because they influence buying decisions.

Because they’re more socially active, singles are better when it comes to spreading word-of-mouth. “Those people are very important nodes in the communication and marketing networks,” says Pearse McCabe, CEO of marketing firm Dragon Rouge US, adding that singles are more likely to share brands, recommendations, and marketing messages.

A business can utilize the social and economic power of singles by combining effective target marketing with social media incentives. Giveaways, contests, and hashtags are great ways to engage people online, encourage interaction with each other, and attract new customers.


Marcus Medford | Contributing Writer



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