Living: Here Come the DINKs

Double-income, no-kids couples are the latest subset

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Social pundits warn that DINKdom is often just a transitory state. "It is the moment before tradition sets in," says Faith Popcorn, chairman of New York City's BrainReserve, a hip consulting firm. "There is a desire for security, privacy, a nest. Anything you can make that is easy and secure, warm and available, you can market to their cocoon." Philip Kotler, professor of marketing at Northwestern, divides DINKs into upper and lower classes: U-DINKs and L-DINKs. No doubt, while the L-DINKs are rushing to graduate from K mart to Marshall Field, the U-DINKs will be deserting the Banana Republic for Abercrombie & Fitch. Because busy U-DINKs tend to miss mass-media advertising, upscale magazines and direct mail are the most effective way to target them. Kotler cites the Sharper Image, a top-of-the-line techie catalog, as defining U-DINK style.

The big DINK dilemma is when or whether to have children. In 1986 the cost of raising a child to age 18 averaged almost $100,000; of course, that figure does not include future college expenses. Like many DINKs, William Cohen, 33, an Atlanta lawyer, and Susan Penny-Cohen, 28, founder of a headhunting firm for lawyers and paralegals, have not yet planned to reproduce. "As our income ^ grew, we found that we had less time," says William. Northwestern's Kotler suspects that the double-incomers' frenzy of consumption will exhaust itself, and more couples will see children as desirable: "Children may be the next pleasure source after the DINKs have tried everything else."

Therefore, DINKs will not be the last of the snappy acronyms. Get ready for the TIPS (tiny income, parents supporting) and finally NINKs (no income, no kids).

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