Labor of Love: Child-free Brits more likely to enjoy spoiling their partners

February 13, 2015

This Valentine’s Day, Brits across the country will be taking the opportunity to push the boat out and show how much they care. However new research from Mintel has found that it is couples without children who are more likely to enjoy spoiling their partner with two-thirds (67%) of this group agreeing that they enjoy buying treats and presents for their loved one, compared to 62% of those with kids.

Indeed this weekend it is couples without children in the UK who have the most love to celebrate, with nearly two thirds (65%) of child-free couples agreeing they are satisfied with the amount of leisure time they spend with their partner, compared with just over half (56%) of couples with children. In addition, over three-quarters (78%) of couples without children say they are satisfied with the emotional support they get from their partner, compared to 71% of couples with children. Furthermore, three quarters (74%) of those in relationships without kids are satisfied with the extent to which their partner supports their ambitions, compared to two-thirds (65%) of those with them.

5% of British couples without children say it is because they have seen others struggle to raise their own.Whilst 36% of Brits today are in a relationship* but do not have children, over half (58%) of this group say they will not have children in the future. Although the pitter patter of tiny feet is often seen as the happy-ever-after for many relationships, Mintel’s research has found that Brits are choosing to forgo children in order to make the most of the relationship they have with their partner. The top reason for this group not to have children is that they are enjoying being just the two of them (29%), followed by 20% agreeing that it’s due to biological or fertility reasons and 16% claiming that having children is not compatible with their lifestyle.

Furthermore, 5% say it is because they have seen others struggle to raise children which trumps the number choosing not to have children because they are instead focussing on their career (4%).

Ina Mitskavets, Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Couples without children are often portrayed in black and white as either leading a glamorous jet-setting lifestyle or a sad lonely existence. In reality, many of these couples have made the choice to prioritise their education, careers, relationships or the needs of other family members above starting a family of their own.”

It seems that financial stability is also compromised by having children with 35% of those with children claiming they sometimes resist buying something they want as it might cause an argument with their partner versus 24% of those without children. Indeed, over a quarter (27%) of households without children say they haven’t really been affected by the downturn compared to one in seven (15%) households with children.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the decision to start a family changes people’s priorities for the rest of their lives, whilst placing a huge demand on parents’ time. ‘Having it all’ whilst combining childcare and work responsibilities leaves partners with less time to dedicate to each other and the relationship could suffer as a result. Whilst happiness is tough to measure and even tougher to define, it is evident that there is a deficit of satisfaction in a number of key relationship areas when it comes to comparing couples with children to those without.” Ina continues.

Furthermore, Mintel’s research has found that the UK is developing a more committed relationship with online dating. Whilst the market rose by 74% between 2009 to 2014, growing from £95.2 million to an estimated £165.2 million, it is predicted to hit £225.3 million by 2019. Over a quarter (27%) of Brits have met new partners or dates using dating websites or apps, with 72% agreeing that they have used this method to look for a serious relationship. However, suggesting that there may be trouble ahead when using this platform, a quarter (24%) of those who have used online dating websites or apps say they wouldn’t use them again.

Richard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant at Mintel, said:

“The speed of life is such that people are craving fast-tracking services that either promise an algorithm-led route to happiness or a location based hook-up service. With urbanisation, commuting and longer working lives, the appeal of this to a time-pressed, ‘always-on’ digital mentality can only be expected to grow. These services will also increasingly need to cater to older demographics, with Seniors being the one segment where divorce is increasing and introducing new, older blood into the dating stream.”

*in a relationship includes currently married, cohabiting, or in a relationship but not living together

Press review copies of the reports and interviews with Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst, Ina Mitskavets, and Senior Trends Consultant, Richard Cope, are available on request from the press office.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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