No-Kids Zone

Worldwide, the uncomfortable reality is that households with children, once the dominant force in the marketplace, are now a rapidly shrinking part of the the social and commercial landscape.

Get Comfortable

Worldwide, the uncomfortable reality is that households with children, once the dominant force in the marketplace, are now a rapidly shrinking part of the the social and commercial landscape.

A convergence of factors worldwide — financial, environmental, technological, demographic, and attitudinal — has created a perfect storm of more household than ever without children.  In particular, more adults than ever are living child-free.

Yet, legacy business practices have built children into every aspect of branding and retail, if not as the focal point of business then as an accommodation necessary to do business. 

When it comes to decision journeys and household requirements, the presence of children, at least in the background, is the comfort zone of business as usual.

Lower fertility rates combined with longer lifespans make this an enduring and growing change in household structure.

Simply put, the emerging opportunity is adults-only.  And not, as is generally thought, just among older consumers.  This is a bigger phenomenon among younger consumers.

Increasingly, children are just not part of the plan for young householders who have always been the heaviest spending consumers, and thus the most valuable marketing and retail target consumers.

And the decline of households with children is spilling over into all public spaces as a resistance to the presence of children.  More and more adults want child-free retail, entertainment, and recreation.


How It Matters

  • How widespread will No-Kid Zones become? In what ways will this affect current retail and marketing practices, and how will this differ by category?
  • How is the presumption of children, whether directly or indirectly, embedded in marketing and retail practices? What is possible to do differently if kids are not part of the picture?
  • With no kids in tow or waiting at home, what could retailers deliver as more-engrossing adult-specific experiences?
  • How could products be engineered in more animated or more streamlined ways to cater to the preferences of adults-only?
  • What services have children provided in the past as contributing members of their households? In what ways have adults depended on children? What services will adults now require without children around to provide them?
  • What categories are at near-term risk from the diminished presence of children in households? What does this mean over the long-term for youth marketing?
  • What business practices are currently constrained or regulated because of the need for the protection of children?

Ask us about:

Dig Deeper:

  • Childless households are a global phenomenon, as discussed by The Economist.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau offered a 50-year view of the U.S. demographic shift to adults living in households without children in an analysis comparing 1967 with 2016.
  • Affordability is forcing families out of urban areas, making cities de facto childless.
  • This post offers many examples of the trend of businesses limiting or prohibiting children on premise — the ugly conflict with parents is seen  in the comments.
  • Some universities are also limiting when children can be on campus.
  • Having no kids is also growing because of concerns about environmental impact.
  • In this blog post, Kantar consultant Jeanne Riek examines the broader shift of female empowerment, which bears directly on decisions about family and children.

More to Know

% households with at least one family member under 20 years old


NOTE: Households with children are declining everywhere.  While this is a long-term trend, it is intensifying over time, as seen in both more markets and bigger drops.


NOTE: Only in a few markets is total population growth big enough to sustain a increase in numbers of both households with and without children.  Most markets are experiencing not just relative declines in households with children but absolute declines as well.


NOTE: The percentage of adults living without children is slightly higher than the percentage of households without children because of adults who live together in the same household.  So this trend is even more pronounced when looking at people instead of households.


“Over the last 50 years, the percentage of adults living without children has climbed 19 percentage points from 52.5% in 1967 to 71.3% today based on an analysis of Current Population Survey data.”

“We see even more dramatic changes for 25- to 34-year-olds. In 1967, 23.9% of 25- to 34-year-olds did not have children living with them. By 2016, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds without children in the home more than doubled to 61.5%.”