Holiday Spirit: The Spirited Women's Guide to Shopping Out of the Gift Box
NOT Your Average Shopping Guide
What Did I Miss??

What About Single People?

Lonelywoman “Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it.”

PA Governor Ed Rendell recently put his foot in it with an open mike comment about Governor Napolitano's new Homeland Security job.  As Gail Collins wrote, " sure sounded as if he was saying that single people like Napolitano exist in a state so dark and barren that the empty hours can only be filled up by guarding the nation’s borders against terrorists and preparing for the next hurricane."

Rendell managed to offend at least four different groups of women, including - yep - Moms. (Moms aren't qualified for top jobs? Hey!) Way to go fella! That's the Eddie I remember from my days living in Philly. (He was mayor before he was guv.)  But, what was the big deal?  Single women don't have families, do they? WELL!  Grumble, mumble...

Recently I was talking to someone about all the potential changes in "our" taxes.  He was very concerned that his were going to be raised.  I replied that it really is a mote point for me - as a single sole proprietor, I pretty much get shafted anyway no matter who's in office. I'm not a "middle-class family." But, hey, I am the "head of household" even if I don't have dependents; if I don't work, the "household" won't exist, including making that mortgage payment to the bank. (Once, when I called the IRS with a question, the nice lady said, "We don't care if you're self-employed." which pretty much sums it up.)

And so it goes for many other areas of life (and marketing).  Dining coupons. Travel packages. Long-term care insurance. Home services (No, Mrs. Cleaver won't be home all day).  Auto repair (I have to go through all kinds of schedule gyrations since I don't have a second car or driver.) Food packaging (No, I don't want over-priced, over-packaged, pre-cooked, high-sodium  "convenience."  What I need is the ability to simply pry out one frozen fish filet from the pack...I can't eat two pounds of salmon at one sitting.) Etc. etc. etc.

There's a lot of hubbub about the "new" opportunities in  "marketing to women female customers."  Yet, there's a teensy data point many miss.  Single women comprise between 43 percent and 51 percent of the adult women in the country.  What about that opportunity?  And, we're not waiting to become a couple before we live our lives. We're happy (well, usually) and are likely permanently single. For example, 22% of the houses bought last year were by single women. Why not market to the "permanently single" people of both sexes?  (And - no - those desperately happy "find a mate" web sites and cruises don't count.)  Offer straight discount dining deals.  Offer "after hours" services for everything for auto repair to plumbing.  Make that freezer pack of fish resealable. And so on.  

Now, go read Gail Collins' column (link above) - she's LOL funny and smart. (Almost makes up for the loss of Molly Ivins.)



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Mary Schmidt

Toby, well yes re "disposable" income. If we've not already disposed of it supporting our parents, sisters, nieces, etc. ("Call Aunt Susan. She can give you the money.")

And, don't let's get me started about being an only child with aged parents. ;-)

Personally, I don't think Rendell was (consciously) being sexist. And, he did attempt to clarify he meant workacholics (like him.)

People simply don't think (to Yvonne's point re her single sisters.)


Mary - Great post. Especially in this economy single women/people may be one of the few demos with disposable income available to purchase more than necessity items. Silly advertisers!

alicia banks


rendel is a sexist fool

see more on singleism at


Melanie Notkin

Great post, Yvonne!

ruta Fox

I market to women who are available and happy with my Ah Ring! I created the first and only diamond ring for single women to buy for themselves and wear on their pinkie.....HUGE to take a look.

Yvonne DiVita

Mary, you bring up truly valid points in marketing to your female customer (can't we just say marketing to women?) space. What about women who choose to remain single, or are single for a time?

They're still a strong, powerful market - and we can't assume things about their lifestyle, without asking them.

I had a really long, rambling end to this comment but it isn't worth printing so...I will end here with a thank you for showing me the error of my ways - I plead guilty in thinking about my single sisters differently than I think about my married sisters...almost to the level of agreeing with the comment you are objecting to here.

Wow! That's embarrassing!

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