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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how since “more Americans than ever are living alone these days,” CPG companies “are taking note, catering to what they see as a lucrative market for single-person households by upending generations of family-focused product development and marketing. Appliance makers are shrinking refrigerators and ovens. Food companies are producing more single-serving options. Household-product makers are revamping packaging.”

The story says that “product makers see opportunities across this market, especially young, affluent city dwellers and aging consumers who want right-sized products.

“Companies are furiously researching how singles buy differently. The findings aren’t that they simply want things to be smaller.

“Researchers have found many affluent, single-person households in urban areas tend to spend more per person than larger ones. They are often willing to spend more for a unit of something - twice as much, say, for chopped romaine as a whole head. Some want smaller appliances but bigger closets, or prefer one huge roll of toilet paper over multiple backup rolls they must store somewhere. Many marketers approach single-person households with urban consumers in mind.”

To be clear, this isn’t just perception. It is a real demographic shift: “Today, 35.7 million Americans live alone, 28% of households. That is up from 13% of households in 1960 and 23% in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau … Delayed or foregone marriage, longer life expectancy, increased urbanization and rising wealth are prompting more Americans to go solo.”
KC's View:
Fascinating. So much of mainstream American retail has been constructed around appealing to the traditional family - suburban with a bunch of kids, a house and a basement and a minivan or SUV. But this points out yet again how this traditional view may no longer be as operative as it once was.

Traditional families don’t exist the way they once did … plus, people are waiting loner to get married (if they do at all), are moving to more urban environments, with smaller domiciles with no basements, and they may not even own a car.

By the way … it cannot just be suppliers that address these shifts. It also has to be retailers.