Marketing to Single Parents Can Be Complicated

At the end of 2014, Pew Research reported that 34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent – up from just 9% in 1960 and 19% in 1980. At first blush it might appear that these households represent a single demographic, and one that is ripe for marketing at that.

In reality, marketing to single parents is anything but simple. As with most things, those that are most successful reaching this group are those that really understand them. Our insights here are only a glimpse at this demographic, so be sure to look at your own data to expand your knowledge with your actual customers (or potential customers) in mind.

Also according to the Pew Research Center, 83% of children living in single-parent homes were living with their mother. Other reports put the number of single family homes at 28%, or 12 million households, but the number of women-led households holds steady. About 40% of mothers are the breadwinners for their households, and they tend to be the decision makers for travel as well.

Tips for Engaging Single Parents

This is fairly critical to understand when designing any marketing that involves families. Consumers want to see themselves reflected in advertising, and if you continue with the traditional narrative of the nuclear family, your customers will feel more and more estranged from your marketing. Similarly, the narrative of the father as the decision maker in families is one that could alienate mothers with spending power, especially if your competitors offer more compelling creative. Here’s some other factors to bear in mind:

  • Only 18% of parents with no spouse or partner feel they live comfortably
  • 32% of them feel they afford the basic expenses, and have a little left over for extras
  • The number of single-father households is also on the rise, though they represent a much smaller minority—only 7%
  • 33.3% of single-mother homes are in poverty
  • 21% of single-father homes are in poverty
  • In the U.S., it takes 50 hours of work weekly at minimum wage for a single parent with two children to work their way out of poverty. Ergo, single parents are very likely to be time-starved in balancing work with the needs of family

When developing the strategy to start advertising to single parents, these insights make a good starting place for aligning your message and creative to a unique audience.

Acknowledge Their Challenges

Whether you’re in retail or you run a restaurant, connecting with customers starts by showing you care about their concerns. When you’ve made it a point to show how much you value their business by acknowledging the challenges they face regularly, you’ll earn their loyalty. Just remember, your business’ actions will speak louder than words, so ensure your in-store policies align with the experience you’re promising in your marketing.

Save Them Time

Most parents are time-starved, and single parents can be more so than others. If you have ways to increase speed and convenience, capitalize on them. For example, if your restaurant offers healthful food that can be available as fast as fast food, you’re offering single parents a benefit that can fit into their schedules.

Save Them Money

One-parent households often rely on just one income as well, so emphasizing affordable price points can go a long way. Remember that you’re marketing to a family, so product or meal bundles that offer good value for a great price can be attractive.

Make It Easy

Children are enough of handful in their own right. Make your business as effortless for parents to access as possible by offering services that can take some of the burden off their shoulders. This could be a delivery service, an app that lets them place meal or product orders right from their phone, auto-recurring services, or reminders in the format of their choice.

Include Their Kids

Quite simply, you want your business to be child-friendly (i.e., approachable) even if it isn’t child-focused. Consider Ikea: The retail powerhouse isn’t a store for kids, but it features a supervised play area that ensures the kids have fun while their parent can shop stress-free. Restaurants can provide special offers, such as kids’ meals or desserts for free.

Ensure They Feel Safe

A parent’s main concern is always going to be the safety of their family. Your location and offerings should be kid-safe and preferably judgment-free. If they are, promoting that will also get parents’ attention.

Engage in Philanthropy

It’s always a good idea to align with the causes your customers care about, especially if they make sense for your business. Children-focused and family-oriented charitable causes are top choices for engaging this demographic.

Advertising to single parents is a tactic worth adding to your overall marketing strategy. Remember that this is a demographic that’s likely to grow, and you can’t afford to ignore it.

Get Started Today:

Begin by auditing your strategy for marketing to one-parent households. How effectively are you reaching this segment right now?

  • Be sure to keep their unique needs in mind. Meeting those needs and relieving elements of their psychological pain are key to a successful connection.
  • Work through the tips we’ve listed above. Determine which you can apply to your marketing and in-store experiences now, and which may take time to develop properly.
  • Take a look at your segmentation. Do you have marketing segments that address different types of single parents?