The rise of the single-person household

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Do you live alone? You’re not alone! In fact, for the first time in Canada, one-person households are now the most common living arrangement, according to a new Statistics Canada study.

The latest census data and the 2017 General Social Survey on Family show that the number of Canadians living on their own has more than doubled in the past 35 years. Here at Provident, most of us live alone.

What does this mean for businesses? It means many of your clients and customers likely live alone too. And singles have lots of purchasing power, so savvy companies are coming up with innovative ways to serve one-person households.

Grocery chains and food retailers are devoting more efforts to producing ready-made meals that appeal to busy singles.

The travel industry is taking pains to create deals for solo travellers. Hotels are removing supplementary charges for singles. Cruise ships are offering single cabins. Airlines are introducing solo options that offer all-inclusive packages at no extra charge. Air Transat’s solo offerings, for example, have almost doubled since 2015.

But it’s still not enough, experts say -- there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses looking to cash in on the trend.

Since women are fuelling the increase in single-person households because they’ve become more economically self-reliant, businesses that cater to successful women can carve out a niche for success.

Figure out what products and services women need and want. What conveniences would enhance their lives and save them precious time? What tried-and-true products and services are just asking to be disrupted? (Personally, the women here at Provident would love hair salons in which we could simultaneously have our makeup, nails and brows attended to -- or have someone come to our homes to perform those services all in one shot -- but maybe that’s just us).

Do your homework. Lots of clues are contained in what singles already buy. Since foods packaged in smaller portions for single diners are popular, make sure your offering is tastier, fresher and healthier than your competitors’. This a demographic accustomed to dining out, so they want innovative, high-quality foods.

And watch your marketing. Singles don’t like being portrayed as lonely or in need of companionship. They’re largely alone by choice and quite happily so. Smart marketing and advertising to singles often involves simply including them. No need for everyone in your advertising to be wearing wedding bands or to be coupled up.

One-person households are very likely going to become more common in the years to come. Figure out what they need and want, and go for it.