How Marketing to Singles May Be Good for Small Businesses

One is no longer the loneliest number, and small business marketers should take notice. Each year, businesses spend billions of dollars competing to market to couples, especially around holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. However, singles are one of the largest, fastest-growing and untapped consumer segments in the United States.

In 2014, U.S. Census Data found nearly 50 percent of the adult population was single. This equates to more than 100 million unmarried people in the United States that are 18 or older. According to Scott Lathrop, a professor of marketing at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, many small businesses can benefit from marketing to singles.

“Singles are the perfect group to market to,” said Lathrop. “They have a high disposable income and more purchasing power.”

In 2012, singles in the United States spent roughly 2 trillion dollars on goods and services. One reason singles are likely to have a higher amount of disposable income is that many singles over the age of 18 lack dependents. The average size of a family in the United States is about three people. Singles are likely only shopping for one, which frees up more money to use toward purchasing products and services. However, there are many other added benefits to marketing to singles.

According to Lathrop, singles are less likely to be price-conscious while shopping, as they are more willing to try new things, and often build relationships with brands who fit in with their single lifestyle.

“Many single people think of a brand as an interpersonal relationship,” said Lathrop. “Sometimes they will even talk about a brand as if they are talking about a friend.”

To Lathrop, this can payoff in long-term benefits for businesses who seek to establish brand loyalty.

So how can small businesses market to singles effectively?  One way to capitalize on the singles segment is to build lengthier campaigns that centralize around key purchasing times.

“Small companies will spend a majority of their advertising and marketing budget on their holiday audience,” said Lathrop.

Smaller businesses may want to plan their campaigns one full year in advance, in order to make an effective push for their brand.

“It is helpful to start small and build up,” Lathrop explains. “Slowly build from ads early in the year to a big media push right before major spending holidays.”

Lathrop also suggests marketers try time sensitive deals directed toward singles, such as a deal or coupon that expires at the end of the month. Getting singles in the store once gives businesses an opportunity to offer a rewards program or another follow-up bonus that can help guarantee a recurring single customer. Small businesses marketers can also try making an offer or product convenient to use or access, which is often appealing to singles.

“The true reason any company exists is to create value,” explains Lathrop. “You cannot create value without knowing your customers.  Understanding customer needs and desires is at the center of every successful business.  In truth, every company should consider its main asset its portfolio of customers – not its portfolio of products.”


Kristin Mascolo