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The Age of Single

Single is a terrible thing to waste.

Single people are having their moment. Findings from the Current Population Survey show that in the U.S., there are now 117.9 million adults, 18 and older, who are divorced or widowed or have been single all their lives. That’s up a whopping 115.8 million from a year ago.

In just a few years we have shifted our priorities and developed a new set of values when it comes to how we live our lives. More of us are choosing to be single and what our colleagues, friends and parents want, in most cases, is not what we want. In our new work life,  jumping from job to job is fine and turning 30 while still living with roommates is completely normal. We are more sexually open, more digitally connected and we have created new lifestyles that work for us as individuals. 

This trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. According to Psychology Today, there are indications that the number of lifelong single people may increase dramatically in the coming years. For example, the Pew Research Center estimates that by the time today’s young adults in the U.S. reach the age of 50, about 25 percent of them will have been single their whole lives. To have a collective of 50-year-olds in which 1 out of 4 have never been married will transform the social, political, and economic landscape in ways advertisers cannot yet fully imagine. People are now searching for self-expression, independence and experiences, before looking for a relationship, marriage and children.

Single life is no longer underestimated by society and is being celebrated. Being single is about having the freedom to completely control the rhythm of your life, and all of the decisions that go along with that.

Singles are also tasting economic freedom by gaining a lot of confidence and empowerment, in their consumption habits. 84% of American singles appreciate that they don't have to fight about money and believe that economic freedom is much easier to satisfy than their own needs.

We are seeing this reflected in our culture and there is a growing number of creators, television and film characters and cultural icons redefining the individual experience. In terms of women particularly, we see how the entertainment industry is moving on from the idea of the sad, lonely single gal to the liberated, imperfect and unapologetic woman living a life without compromise.

So, let’s consider the implications this has for brands.

Almost 60 million households in the United States are maintained by single people and according to a survey, the households of single women are not reflected in advertising. They are a different group of consumers, bringing with them a new set of values, habits and needs and they don’t want to be labeled simply as "singles".

The concept of being single is being redefined to mean that a person who is alone, is very motivated, satisfied and above all, content with his/her life and this marks a change in the expectations of individual consumers.

In fact, the UN report “Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020 concluded that delaying or never getting married has enabled women to complete their education gain a stronger foothold in the labor market, and support themselves financially. Giving them the purchasing power that brands should be after.

The idea that a single person is just a part of a group that hasn't happened yet is just ridiculous. Single people are a fast growing consumer force that is poised to reject cliché advertising and condescending narratives and they will use their purchasing power and online savvy to make themselves heard and represented.

Brands should definitely not waste this opportunity.

Sarah O.

PR Director