Single parents are a large and growing demographic. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in August, 2007, there were approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States responsible for raising 21.2 million children. That’s up from 7 million single parents in 1990 and 10 million in 2000. At the same time the number of single parents has grown, so has their affluence. The percentage of single parents living below the poverty line is shrinking and both the median income for single parent households and the number of single parent families earning the median income or more is growing. Stronger state and federal child support enforcement, welfare reforms, increased opportunities for women in the workforce, and greater social support for single parent families are changing single parenting for the better. Yet, the single parent demographic is still largely ignored by marketers. “There is a strong belief that single parents are charity cases, not consumers,” reports Clare Bean, co-founder of the popular social website I Heart Single Parents. “Even though the data shows most single parents are gainfully employed, loyal, motivated and time-conscious consumers, most business owners still associate single parenting with poverty. Marketers are missing a growing opportunity to address a large population of key decision makers with money to spend.”
Some tips for marketing to single parents
• Offer convenience and value. Single parents are very busy and they need products that serve their lifestyle. If you can help them find healthy, reasonably priced, easy options for handling daily chores, food preparation, and entertainment choices, you’ll find loyal buyers within this demographic.
• Recognize and respect the unique qualities of their lives. Create messages and graphics that portray a positive, affirming identity for single-parent households. Single parents want to provide a high quality of life for their children. Speak to that desire in ways that work within their hectic daily schedule.
• Create strategic alliances with media outlets and social organizations that appeal to single parents, consider offering single-parent discounts, and look for ways to include children in your service offerings.
“Succeeding as a single parent requires recognizing and setting healthy boundaries about what is most important in life and what can be safely ignored, a high degree of commitment to your family’s well-being, and an extraordinary amount of organization and self-confidence,” Bean explains. “Companies that speak to these needs in their marketing will be seen as a welcome resource in the lives of single parents.”