Comparing Single and Married Women as Consumers

Though surveys often lump them together, single women and married women behave differently as consumers. A report released last month by SheSpeaks gives a useful glimpse at the disparities.

For one thing, married women pay more attention to advertising (bless their hearts!) than do single women. Polling among members of SheSpeaks’ online community in March and April shows this tendency carrying across a range of media when it comes to learning about new products. Marrieds were more likely than singles to say they get such information from TV commercials (59 percent vs. 54 percent), direct mail (51 percent vs. 39 percent), Internet search/Internet ads (47 percent vs. 41 percent) and magazine ads (48 percent vs. 39 percent). Singles were a bit more likely than marrieds to cite “blogs/buzz/social media” as such a source (40 percent vs. 36 percent). Topping all of these for both cohorts, though, were “friends/family,” cited by 80 percent of singles and 73 percent of marrieds.

Elsewhere in the survey, married women were significantly more apt than their single counterparts to describe themselves as “thrifty” (73 percent vs. 58 percent) and correspondingly less likely to say they “love to spend” (27 percent vs. 42 percent). This predisposition is reflected in their expenditures for clothing: 43 percent of the singles, vs. 28 percent of the marrieds, reported spending more than $1,000 per year on clothes. Conversely, 40 percent of the marrieds, vs. 26 percent of the singles, said they spend less than $500 per year in that category.

Although singles and marrieds alike are economizing these days, the former have been more resistant to cutbacks. Lower proportions of singles than marrieds are spending less than a year ago in sectors ranging from travel (50 percent vs. 62 percent) to movies (52 percent vs. 57 percent) to makeup/beauty (37 percent vs. 41 percent).

The relative frugality of married women carries over to their use of coupons. Sixty-three percent of marrieds, vs. 42 percent of singles, said they “always” use paper coupons when shopping. The marrieds also had a higher propensity than singles to say they always use “online coupons that you print and use at a store” (39 percent vs. 26 percent).

Still, amid all these disparities in the consumer behavior of single and married women, price is the “top driver” guiding the purchase decisions of both cohorts in some major categories. Fifty-three percent of marrieds and 47 percent of singles cited it as the top driver in their choice of clothing/shoes; 58 percent of marrieds and 57 percent of singles picked it as the foremost factor in their choice of food/groceries. Singles were a bit more likely than marrieds (63 percent vs. 58 percent) to say it’s the top driver in their choice of household products.