How Canadian Businesses Can Benefit From A Growing Single Population

This article was originally published in The Edge: A Leaders Magazine.

With more and more people putting off marriage, getting divorced, outliving their
spouses and choosing not to date, there are tonnes of single people out there.
According to the 2016 census, one-person households are the most common living
arrangement in Canada for the first time in history. And while that might sound
concerning for the population of this country, it is good news for businesses. Society is
geared towards families even though the single demographic is one of the
fastest-growing in Canada and around the world. If businesses could tap into that
growing market, it could be hugely profitable. Here, The Edge takes you through some
of the ways businesses can benefit from a burgeoning single population.

Adjust your business or service

More and more travel companies are adjusting their services to accommodate single
people and solo travellers. Tracey Nesbitt, the editor of Solo Traveler magazine, says that
demand for solo travel has exploded among millennials and baby boomers, particularly
for women. Some travel companies have responded to the increased interest by
offering more single rooms and waiving singles supplement charges. Some companies offer communal dining tables and happy hour reception while allowing
solo travellers to pair up in rooms and even meet before the journey electronically.
Since launching in 2015, Transat’s collection of solo packages has nearly doubled. It
includes 19 sun destinations, 39 resorts in 10 countries and welcomes about 8,000 solo
travellers 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 have dedicated more
floor space to ready-made food because it appeals to busy, well-off singles. Also, food
packaged in smaller portions is more likely to satisfy a single diner than a family of four.
These adjustments “serve a market and substantially increases margins” says professor
of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, Sylvain Charlebois. On the
flipside, because singles are more likely to dine out, packaged foods need to be tastier
and more appealing. Restaurants also need to consider the solo diner when creating
their menus.

Businesses related to housing and housing-affiliated products should also be mindful of
changing trends. Nearly 4 million Canadians live alone and 28 per cent of those 4
million live in condominiums, according to Statistics Canada. The growing number
Canadians living alone has coincided with the increase in condominium construction. If you’re in the real estate or housing development business, you could create more
single-person units to get more business.

Marketing to singles

Single people tend to have more free time and disposable income than people in
relationships. As one of the fastest-growing demographics in Canada, businesses
should capitalize on the marketing opportunity. To market to singles, you need
to understand them. However, unlike most demographic groups, singles are not 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 18-24-year-olds who’ve never been married and
people 55 and older who are widowed or divorced. These are two very different groups
with very different needs and must be marketed to accordingly.
Be mindful of how you portray singlehood and the risks involved with poor marketing.
Don’t frame singlehood as negative or as a case of “not being able to find a partner.”
According to Eric Klinenberg, a 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. Marketing to singles can be
as simple as not excluding them when marketing to families. Seemingly-small steps like
not having every adult in an ad or commercial wearing a wedding ring can go a long

Take advantage of trends

In addition to being a fast-growing demographic with extra disposable income, singles
are economically powerful because they influence buying decisions. Single people are
more connected through social media than others, 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. CEO of marketing firm Dragon Rouge US, Pearse McCabe, says single people are more likely to share brands, recommendations and marketing messages. “Those people are very important nodes in the communication and marketing networks,” McCabe said.

You can utilize the social and economic power of singletons by combining marketing
directed at them with social media incentives. Giveaways, contests and hashtags are great ways to engage people online, help them interact with each other and attract new
people to your business.