For an increasing number of American women, marriage in the 21st century exists as more of a "capstone" rather than a "cornerstone". In essence, marriage has become something women do after they've accomplished their educational, professional, and financial goals, instead of serving as the foundation for their foray into full-fledged adulthood as was often the case with women in generations past.
The U.S. marriage age is at historic highs for both genders--age 27 for women and age 29 for men--and likely will continue to rise in coming years. Yet according to Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, a 2013 report released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, women stand to benefit the most from this trend toward delayed marriage.
Beyond being able to finish their education and stabilize their careers and finances before starting a family, women with a college degree who wait to marry until at least 30, and high school educated women without a degree who also wait until 30, earn more than those who marry at younger ages. Ultimately these women earn $18,000 and $4,000 more per year compared to women who marry before age 20.
The primary caveat of the delayed marriage trend is that more minority women are raising children as single or unwed mothers. Knot Yet reveals that by age 25, 44% of minority women have had a baby, but only 38% have married. Further, 48% of all first births are now to unmarried minority women (most of them in their 20s), which has pushed America to the verge of moving into a new demographic where more than half of first firsts in the country occur before marriage. According to the upcoming report, Americans in 2020 by market research publisher Packaged Facts, this tipping point is forecast to occur within the next seven years and will shape the future of American households for years to come even as the nation continues to face what many regard to be a birthrate crisis.
Married or not, the modern American mom is a formidable presence in the U.S. retail market. Even those who are unwed and living in single-adult households with one income carry tremendous sway because they are guardians of not only a segment that holds tremendous influence over household purchases today (i.e., children), but they also help shape and mold the consumers of tomorrow.
The influence of single moms may be especially important in shaping future consumer purchasing habits of children in minority households, especially in the African American community in which black moms are 78% more likely than other consumers to say that they have never been married, according to Packaged Facts' upcoming report on the African American consumer demographic.
Unmarried African American moms display intriguing tendencies as retail shoppers, especially when it comes to purchasing products labeled natural or organic. Packaged Facts research reveals that African American unmarried moms are 42% more likely than average to say that when purchasing health and beauty care (HBC) products and household cleaning products they look for organic/natural items.
Brand recognition is also important to single African American moms, who are 31% more likely to look for the brand name on the packages of products before buying--indicating a tendency toward brand loyalty that could be passed down to future generations. However, innovation is essential to keeping this demographic's attention as they are also significantly more likely to change brands for sake of novelty and to say that they are among the first of their friends to shop at a new store.
This love of novelty and innovation is equally apparent based on the cohort's tendencies when it comes to food related psychographics. Single black moms are 42% more likely to say they prefer to eat gourmet food whenever they can and 21% more likely to say they prefer food presented as an art form-an indication that they have potential to thrive as a foodie consumer segment within the African American market and to pass this passion for food adventure down to their children.
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