US Marketing to Adults Without Kids Market Report 2021
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“The number of childless adults in the US will continue to grow, and brands must develop strategies for addressing this market. The first step will be understanding that not all…

US Marketing to Adults Without Kids Market Report 2021

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Report Summary

This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the US Marketing to Adults Without Kids market including market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the Marketing to Adults Without Kids market in the US.

Current market landscape

Birth rates were already falling in the US, but COVID-19 has further influenced young adults’ decision to delay becoming parents. As a result, brands must learn how to market to a growing market of adults without children.

Future market trends in US marketing to adults without kids

The life stages and priorities of adults within this group can vary dramatically, so nuanced messaging will be necessary for reaching this audience. The narrative that all adults of a certain age are parents – or want to be parents – must evolve to recognize this overlooked group of consumers.

Read on to discover more about the US Marketing to Adults Without Kids consumer market, read our US Home Entertainment Technology: Hardware & Services Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on adults without children.
  • Demographic trends that predict a growing number of childless households.
  • Opportunities to reach this audience by leveraging Mintel Global Trend Drivers.
  • The life circumstances and attitudes that influence their purchase decisions.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Kristen Boesel, a leading analyst in the Lifestyles and Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The number of childless adults in the US will continue to grow, and brands must develop strategies for addressing this market. The first step will be understanding that not all adults without kids have the same goals, interests or financial circumstances – particularly as adults without kids tend to fall into two very different lifestages: older ones who are retired empty-nesters, and younger ones who are working on achieving life goals – including eventually having children for some. Acknowledging their challenges and catering to their needs will help these consumers feel seen and build brand loyalty.

Kristen Boesel, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure AnalystKristen Boesel
Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definitions
          • Market context
            • COVID-19: US context
              • Economic and other assumptions
              • Executive Summary

                  • Top takeaways
                    • Market overview
                      • Figure 1: Share of US households, by presence of related children, 2011-21
                    • Impact of COVID-19 on adults without kids
                      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on adults without kids, December 2021
                    • Opportunities and challenges
                      • Target older AWOK couples
                        • Figure 3: Percentage of adults who enjoy their current lifestyle, 2021
                      • Foster community among AWOKs
                        • Figure 4: Most important ways adults define their own success (any rank), 2021
                      • Justify premium prices with sustainability claims
                        • Figure 5: Past three month spending, among adults without kids, by age, 2021
                    • The Market – Key Takeaways

                      • Demographic trends mean the number of AWOKs will grow
                        • Brands have opportunities to normalize being childless by choice
                          • Being a parent is expensive
                          • Family Planning Trends

                            • Younger adults are first focused on financial stability
                              • Figure 6: Attitudes toward marriage, by age, 2021
                            • Then comes marriage
                              • Figure 7: Marital status shares, by age, 2020
                              • Figure 8: Median household income, by type of household, 2020
                            • The baby carriage comes later these days
                              • Figure 9: US birth rates, by age of mother, 2010-18
                            • The number of adults without kids will continue to grow
                              • Figure 10: Share of US households, by presence of related children, 2011-21
                            • Impact of COVID-19 on Family Planning
                              • 2020
                                • Figure 11: US birth rates, by selected age group, 2019 and 2020
                              • 2021
                              • Market Factors

                                • Social
                                  • The semantics of childless vs childfree
                                    • Happy, childfree AWOKs are largely absent from entertainment content
                                      • Spotlight: Skippy acknowledges existence of “fun” aunts
                                        • Figure 12: Go To Your SKIPPY® Place™ – Fun Aunt, TV spot, 2020
                                      • Economics
                                        • Inflation could cause some potential parents to rethink their plans
                                          • Figure 13: Consumer Price Index change from previous year, 2020-21
                                        • Childcare is expensive
                                          • Shortage of childcare workers
                                            • Policy
                                              • Build Back Better legislation could make a small difference
                                                • Environmental
                                                  • The carbon footprint of parenthood goes unnoticed
                                                  • Companies & Brands – Key Takeaways

                                                    • Mintel Global Trend Drivers can help marketers understand opportunities
                                                      • New strategies will be needed as American households change
                                                        • Brands must demonstrate empathy for AWOKs’ realities
                                                          • AWOKs will appreciate brands that help them feel like they belong
                                                          • Current Opportunities

                                                            • Mintel’s Global Trend Drivers
                                                              • Help younger AWOKs identify as part of a Community
                                                                • Parents draw identity from parenthood; AWOKs, from their personal interests
                                                                  • Spotlight: Running club facilitates community and camaraderie
                                                                    • Figure 14: Instagram post promoting table tennis league, 2021
                                                                  • Engage AWOKs with the promise of pleasurable Experiences
                                                                    • Position homecare as a pleasurable self-care experience
                                                                      • Spotlight: Clorox makes cleaning look fun
                                                                        • Figure 15: YAAAAAAAAAAAS Clean! | Clorox Scentiva
                                                                      • Understand what Value means for AWOKs
                                                                        • Encourage older AWOKs to enjoy their health, wealth and free time
                                                                          • Promote quality for everyday purchases
                                                                            • Emphasize luxury and convenience for bigger purchases
                                                                              • Figure 16: Online advertisement for Espacio: The Jewel of Waikiki, 2021
                                                                          • Looking Ahead

                                                                            • Acknowledge the realities of adults without kids
                                                                              • Opt-out options for Mother’s Day
                                                                                • Spotlight: Peanut recognizes the struggles of TTC women
                                                                                  • Figure 17: Peanut Instagram post, 2021
                                                                                • Position sustainability as a premium benefit
                                                                                  • Spotlight: Fishwife premiumizes canned tuna
                                                                                    • Support AWOKs with opportunities to build communities
                                                                                      • Younger AWOKs
                                                                                        • Spotlight: “Where everybody knows your (and your dog’s) name”
                                                                                          • Figure 18: Instagram post promoting Yappy Hour at Wonder Bar, 2021
                                                                                        • Older AWOKs
                                                                                        • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                                                                          • Not all AWOKs are alike
                                                                                            • Some lifestyles correlate with age more than parental status
                                                                                              • Where’s the money?
                                                                                                • Businesses have opportunities to bring friends together (outdoors)
                                                                                                  • Brands can reach younger consumers by hosting events online or in-store
                                                                                                    • Age influences how AWOKs define success
                                                                                                    • Getting to Know Adults Without Kids

                                                                                                        • Younger AWOKs
                                                                                                          • At least a third of Younger AWOKs want to have kids…eventually
                                                                                                            • Figure 19: Plans for parenthood, among childless adults aged 18-44, 2021
                                                                                                          • Younger adults are staying kids themselves longer
                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Living arrangements of adults 18 to 64 years old, 2020
                                                                                                          • Younger single AWOKs most likely to feel negatively judged
                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Lifestyle attitudes of adults without kids, 2021
                                                                                                          • Older AWOKs
                                                                                                            • Most older adults without kids are content to be childless
                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Plans for parenthood, among childless adults aged 45+, 2021
                                                                                                            • 2021 Census report draws attention to older childless adults
                                                                                                                • Figure 23: Number of childless adults aged 55+, in millions, 2018
                                                                                                              • Older women are more likely than their male counterparts to be unmarried
                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Marital status shares, by age, 2020
                                                                                                              • More time
                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Percentage who say they can make spur of the moment plans easily, 2021
                                                                                                              • More money
                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Distribution of household net worth, by age of householder, 2017
                                                                                                              • Greater life satisfaction
                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Percentage of adults who enjoy their current lifestyle, 2021
                                                                                                            • Upcoming Life Events

                                                                                                              • Younger, childless adults anticipate a big year
                                                                                                                • Younger AWOKs more likely to adopt a pet than have a child in the coming year
                                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Expected upcoming life events, 2021
                                                                                                                • Spotlight: Ben & Jerry’s expands into the pet space
                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dogs, 2021
                                                                                                                • Younger AWOK couples are especially ready for changes
                                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Expected upcoming life events, by age and relationship status, 2021
                                                                                                                • One third plan to buy a car
                                                                                                                  • A quarter of younger women without kids plan to buy a home
                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Expected upcoming life events, by gender, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Spotlight: Progressive’s Dr. Rick offers hope
                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Dr. Rick | Behind The Methods | Progressive Exclusive, 2021
                                                                                                                • Financial Priorities

                                                                                                                  • Age and life stage play a significant role in financial choices
                                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Past three month spending, among parents and adults without kids, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Almost a third of AWOKs have cut back on spending recently
                                                                                                                    • Figure 34: Past three month spending, among adults without kids, by age, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Spotlight: Selling savings to both Younger and Older AWOKs
                                                                                                                    • Figure 35: Facebook ads for American Express high yield savings accounts, 2021
                                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Facebook ads for Fidelity retirement services, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Even those who have not saved recently hope to do so in the future
                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Recent and expected spending, among adults without kids, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Spotlight: Citibank’s Citi Rewards+ accumulates savings from everyday purchases
                                                                                                                    • Figure 38: National television advertisement for Citibank’s Rewards+ credit card, 2021
                                                                                                                • Leisure Activities

                                                                                                                  • More parents do out-of-home leisure activities than adults without kids
                                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Activities done in the past three months, by parental status, 2021
                                                                                                                  • Most AWOKs want to spend leisure time with friends
                                                                                                                    • Celebrate togetherness with restaurant deals
                                                                                                                      • Spotlight: Possibilities for Chili’s meal deals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Chili’s desktop display advertisement, 2021
                                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Chili’s Instagram post, November 2021
                                                                                                                      • Businesses can provide a wider range of relaxing outdoor activities
                                                                                                                        • Figure 42: Activities planned for the next three months, by gender, 2021
                                                                                                                      • Younger AWOKs are ready to make up for lost time
                                                                                                                        • Figure 43: Activities planned for the next three months, by age, 2021
                                                                                                                      • Spotlight: A “no kids allowed” night at the museum
                                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Instagram post promoting First Fridays event at the Natural History Museum of LA, 2018
                                                                                                                    • Media Use

                                                                                                                      • Unsurprisingly, the types of media that AWOKs use vary with age
                                                                                                                        • Leverage print and broadcast TV for older AWOKs
                                                                                                                          • Spotlight: Celebrity Cruises appeals to older travelers with print ad
                                                                                                                            • Figure 45: Print advertisement for Celebrity Cruises, 2021
                                                                                                                          • YouTube and social platforms offer best chance to reach younger AWOKs
                                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Media used weekly, by age, 2021
                                                                                                                          • Spotlight: Whole Foods
                                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Whole Foods Instagram post promoting Food for Mood, 2021
                                                                                                                          • Traditional TV remains best way to reach AWOKs with ads, but not for long
                                                                                                                            • Figure 48: Media used weekly, 2021
                                                                                                                          • Women rely on SVOD to help them maximize their time
                                                                                                                            • Figure 49: Media used weekly, by gender, 2021
                                                                                                                          • Spotlight: Netflix & Starbucks partner to launch book club
                                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Netflix Book Club with Uzo Aduba | Official Announcement Trailer, 2021
                                                                                                                        • Measuring Success

                                                                                                                          • Many goals are universal regardless of parental status
                                                                                                                            • Relationships are important to everyone, but parents focus on relationships’ quality
                                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Most important ways adults define their own success (any rank), 2021
                                                                                                                            • Younger AWOKs prioritize mental health and career goals
                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Most important ways adults without kids define success, any rank, by age, 2021
                                                                                                                            • Spotlight: SoFi normalizes conversations about money
                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: SoFi | Money Talks Story #1 – Sophia + Imran, 2018
                                                                                                                            • All women value their relationships and free time
                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Most important ways adults without kids define success (any rank), by gender, 2021
                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Percentage of adults without kids define success by the quality of their relationships, any rank, by age and gender, 2021
                                                                                                                            • Spotlight: Pfizer’s Ibrance creatives highlight importance of relationships for all women
                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Desktop creative for Ibrance, 2021
                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                • Marketing creative
                                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations

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