Categories
Brandweek

Solitary Contentment

Solitary Contentment – Statistical Data Included

Becky Ebenkamp

With a sweeping influence on the consumer market comparable to that of the yuppies in the 1980s, a powerful consumer segment is beginning to step forward–in a killer pair of shoes.

In many parts of the world, single women are exercising serious purchasing power and social influence thanks not only to their strong numbers but also to better career opportunities, a longer life expectancy and marriage at a later age. That is, if they choose to interrupt their fast-track lives to wed at all.

As more women exercise the freedom to make lifestyle choices, they become harder to pigeonhole. Single women are a broad group, with an almost infinite variety of lifestyles. The category encompasses the young and the very old; heterosexuals and lesbians; single mothers and the childfree; the unattached and those in long-term, monogamous relationships.

But despite this diversity, single women tend to share a few characteristics. They are info-savvy–ready, willing and able to thoroughly research a product’s reputation before buying. They seek out relationships of quality, making them fiercely loyal to trusted brands. And solo sisters are deeply influenced by the advice of personal confidants. They respond well to messages that affirm their self-determination, intelligence and self-respect.

Hear her roar. From e-commerce to entrepreneurial endeavors, from travel to housing, the single woman is on it. Here are just a few areas she’s impacting, excerpted from an Intelligence Factory report titled The Single Female Consumer.

* The fairer sex and the city: One doesn’t have to look too closely to find females living alone–location depends on one’s lifestyle choices. But, for many single women around the world, especially the young and the childless, the ideal place to live is a city.

Urban settings allow a fluid existence between work and play, with easy access to social and cultural experiences. Metropolitan areas are more likely to house a less conservative and more educated population, and single women–who, despite more liberal attitudes, still go against the grain–may find it easier to live in these richly diverse communities. Crime is now lower in many urban areas, making city life even more attractive to single women (Single mothers, in contrast, are more likely to choose to live in a suburban neighborhood.).

Wherever they choose to live, personal safety is a top priority, and whole communities are being designed with women, especially singles, in mind. These places provide such security measures as guarded entrances, video entry phones and secured parking lots. Location is also a major concern. Said one British estate agent, “A property that is on well-lit roads, and the feeling they can travel in relative safety are key issues.”

Singles seeking the company of other singles are inventing new and unconventional living arrangements. In the U.K., they’re colonizing. In Super-Neighborly Urban Groups–dubbed SNUGs–a group of friends join together and buy an entire block, or one large building on a street. It’s common now for friends to buy former commercial properties and renovate them into semi-independent flats in which friends live separately but under one roof.

SNUGS are a wise economic move for singles: Most are located in up-and-coming areas, so they’re relatively affordable. Snuggies help one another through life’s emergencies large and small, doing everything from lending a cup of sugar to nursing an ill neighbor. They also provide an instant social life–finding companionship is as easy as knocking on a nearby door.

* No boys allowed: Charting a solo course in life opens women up to new experiences that enrich existing markets and create new ones. Typically, single women are involved in a wide range of activities and enjoy a full social life that includes going to the theater, restaurants and the movies. They also spend leisure time exercising at the gym and attending classes and workshops. One respondent summed her lifestyle up thusly: Single women “live well, dress well, enjoy their leisure hours, pamper themselves and take improvement courses, both personal and professional.”

In Japan, single women have perfected this lifestyle by living at home and using their disposable income to travel, shop and dine out with single friends. A 1998 study found that 45% of Japanese single women age 16 and older had no male friends at all, but would rather spend time in the company of other women–traveling, attending the theater and dining out together.As a result, they are having an enormous impact on Japan’s economy

* “Ladies Night” every night: Pub and bar chains have been quick to spot the potential of this niche market. All Bar One, a chain owned by brewer Bass, has more than 50 bars across Britain specifically designed to appeal to women. A female design team made over the traditional British pub, attempting to create a place where women would feel welcome and comfortable enough to meet friends or even pop in for a drink alone.The feminized All Bar One features stripped flooring, big plate-glass windows (to reassure those peering in that the place is clean and well lighted),leather sofas, handbag hooks and a proliferation of flowers and plants.

The bars offer a diverse menu, good wine by the glass, and–perhaps most important to their female patrons–clean restrooms.

DIAMONDS AREN’T A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND

A whole cottage industry will spring up around the single woman, says the Intelligence Factory Possible marketing scenarios:

* Three’s a crowd: SUVs and wagons will give way to a new wave of compact coupes as more solo drivers rule the toad.

* Carpool: Singles will share the ownership of (or lease on) a vehicle, dividing among them the costs of gas, insurance and parking.

* A house divided: Adjoining residences will be planned for singles who want to live near but not with,a significant other.

* Adopt-a-grandchild: Childless singles who don’t want to miss out on the joy of grand-parenthood will “adopt” families with whom to share their wisdom, love and possibly even material blessings.

* Gee, we’ll really miss those catcalls: Women-owned construction companies will succeed by taking the pulse of the single women’s market and giving these consumers what they want in housing,such as large master bed-and-bath suites and cozy living spaces.

* It takes a village…: Single women and their children will live in close-knit communities and establish co-ops to trade services such as grocery shopping, meal preparation and child care.

* “Loser, party of one”: The stigma of dining alone will be banished from a new breed of restaurants catering exclusively to single customers.

* Selling peanut butter by the smidgen: Entrepreneurs will establish markets and meal vans that cater to one-person households, offering single portions of grocery items and prepared meals.

* Dino does Dallas: The travel industry will offer a new breed of “family vacation” with transportation, accommodations and activities designed for people and pets.

COPYRIGHT 2000 BPI Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group