• 3 Apr 2024

Media use changed by individualization of society

The total share of single-person households in Dutch society is growing year on year. How does this affect the housing market, the business community and media use?

Media use changed by individualization of society

The evolution of households in the Netherlands: single-person households have increased to 40%

Just imagine: in 1960, the average household numbered almost 4 people. This number has since halved, with an average of 2.1 people per household. The number of single-person households has risen sharply in recent years and the share of single people has continued to grow since the beginning of this century. In 2000, 33% of all households consisted of one person but this rose to almost 40% in 2023.

The Central Bureau of Statistics has calculated that there are 8.3 million households in the Netherlands, of which 3.3 million are classified as single-person households. This increase can be partly attributed to the ageing population but divorce and people entering into relationships at a later age also play a role.

Characteristics of single-person households

  • Made up of younger and older people: roughly two-thirds are below the state pension age, while one-third are above it.
  • The average disposable income of single-person households is markedly lower than that of multi-person households. The €28,500 for single-person households is 44% of the average disposable income of multi-person households. That’s well under half!
  • The growth of single-person households also puts pressure on the housing market. The ABN AMRO Housing Market Monitor shows that the growth of single-person households is ten times higher than the population growth. This so-called household dilution causes a structural shortage of homes if the construction of new housing does not keep pace.

Savings and challenges of single-person households

Of course, single-person households usually have lower expenses in many aspects. This includes spending on food because there are fewer mouths to feed, and items such as clothing and home furnishings.

Single-person households require fewer square metres of living space compared to multi-person households. The rise in popularity of Tiny Houses is a prime example of this. With less than 50 m2 of floor space, over 5,000 of these homes were sold in 2022. There are now various national initiatives in which older single people downsize their living space by renovating their existing homes to offer housing to others. For example, the North Holland municipality of Bergen encourages this type of development through a scheme to split houses.

Yet certain aspects of single-person households are more expensive than when costs can be split among several people. You have to cover any utility, vehicle and holiday costs yourself. Meals for one are also often relatively expensive. NIBUD (National Institute for Family Finance Information) indicates that single-person households spend an average of 10% more on food than two-person households.

The main advantage of single-person households: autonomy in making choices

The movement towards single-person households is already underway in several Asian countries. The business community there has already adapted quite well to the needs and desires of consumers living alone. This includes conveniences such as online delivery of various products in all kinds of areas. This type of household enjoys clear benefits, including autonomy. It allows individuals to decide entirely for themselves what they spend their money on without having to take others into consideration.

Certain individualisation trends in media use started earlier in Asia than in Europe. Consider the intensive use of smartphones in countries like Japan, South Korea and China. Podcast usage is also booming in Asia and will be covered later in this article. China and India are now the second and third largest podcast markets in the world, after the US.

The individualisation trend in media choice can also be seen in the Netherlands. Decisions such as which film to watch, when to check your favourite news app, which streaming service to buy and which not to buy are made very quickly in a single-person household. RTL Nederland once again reported good growth figures for the Videoland streaming service. Recent research by Streamwijzer shows that on average, Dutch people spend over 300 euros per year on video streaming platforms. Of course, this is not all due to the increase in single-person households. It is also an outcome of a more individualistic society. Technology is also a factor that should not to be underestimated in this. Ever-increasing technological capabilities make more and more personalised products possible.

Podcast: growing usage and even more potential

Podcasts are one type of medium ideally suited to individual media choices. A few years ago, the podcast market was more or less in its infancy internationally, which was also certainly the case in the Netherlands. The 10th edition of the Market Effect Podcast Monitor shows that 48% of Dutch people now listen to podcasts. And those already doing so are enthusiastic: 1 in 4 podcast listeners expect to do this more often in the future. The growth can also be seen in the recently published NMO Media Trends 2023: 17% growth in podcast usage compared to the previous year.

And there is definitely still room for growth in podcast listening. In the US, 83% of the population is familiar with podcasting and 64% have listened to podcasts on occasion. The 35-54 age range has seen the biggest growth in podcast usage. In 2023, 89 million people were listening to podcasts every week in the US. That’s the highest number ever!

A large proportion (58%) of Dutch podcast listeners listen when they are at home. Other popular times for listening to podcasts include when in the car or on public transport, while walking or when in bed. Each and every one of these user moments is well suited to people who live alone and can decide for themselves what type of podcast to listen to and when.

The relatively young age profile also makes podcasts worth keeping an eye on, with the majority of podcast listeners being in the 20-49 age group. NMO Media Trends also identifies the highest growth being in the 35-49 age group and Market Effect shows that 69% of podcast listeners in the Netherlands are highly educated.

Podcast listening = individual media use

The strength of the podcast is that it is a medium eminently tailored to the individual. Consumers have the control and decide what to listen to. You can listen to podcasts when it suits you, for example while walking, exercising, cooking, vacuuming and commuting. Despite the implication that podcast listening is mostly done in conjunction with another activity, you nevertheless get a lot of attention from the listener. It’s a nice starting point for your commercial message as a brand or advertiser!

Do we also see themes from which we can infer that people are doing this on a more individual basis? We cannot really directly infer this from the Audify Podcast Standard. The 10 most popular podcasts in February 2023 were largely from the News genre. Other top genres included Sports, People & Society and Religion & Spirituality. The GfK Trends in Digital Media report also lists News & Current Affairs as the most listened-to podcast theme. Society, Health, Science and Lifestyle complete the top 5.

Podcasts are a medium perfectly suited to the individual media preferences of single people. They offer in-depth content that can be listened to at any time and in various places, making them ideal for people who are free to decide when and where to listen. The growing popularity of podcasts, especially among younger and highly educated listeners, testifies to the potential of this medium as a powerful tool for individual media use. At a time when society is increasingly focused on the individual, media play a crucial role in meeting the needs and preferences of single people.

Dentsu: Podcasts offer depth and clarity

"Audio, including podcasts, is very relevant in this day and age. Attracting and holding attention is a constant challenge. Consumers face an overload of visual stimuli. We lead busy lives and are always on the go and need to multitask. Podcasts offer depth and clarity, which are needed more than ever in a complex world in transition."

Janneke Koebrugge Strategy Director at Dentsu

FD Mediagroep leads the way in podcasts

Within FD Mediagroep, we have 110 different podcast titles and are therefore able to offer multiple frequently listened-to podcast topics. Our podcast portfolio gets around 1.4 million downloads and over 500,000 unique users every week. BNR’s Boekestijn & De Wijk podcast has been the most listened-to podcast in the Netherlands for over a year. Other highly scoring FD Mediagroep titles include Napleiten, BNR De Wereld and FD Dagkoers.

We have vast experience in putting together the right digital audio campaign for your brand and are keenly aware of the impact of the different forms of podcast advertising. At FD Mediagroep, we understand the power of podcast sponsorship, pre-, post- and mid-rolls, as well as contextual use of podcasts. Contact us for advice and let podcasts work for you in reaching consumers.