Younger, working-class families earning moderate incomes in smaller residential communities
The two segments in Families in Motion are dominated by young families living in small towns scattered across the eastern half of the country. Most of the households contain married couples between 25 and 45 years old. Half have families with two or more children. Many of these predominantly white households moved into their towns years ago to raise their children in safe surroundings and affordable homes. Today their towns are neither industrial centers nor high- tech boomtowns, but quiet communities with an employment base consisting of skilled manual workers in construction, manufacturing and the trades.
Families in Motion are found in older, working-class towns that have managed to weather the nation’s transformation to a high-tech economy. Most of the housing stock is old and home values are low, at less than half the national average. But almost all of the members of this group are homeowners of single-family homes. In their remote settings, a disproportionate number have large lots between two and four acres - plenty of room to park their power boats, campers and motorcycles.
In these heartland communities, most families get by on modest educations. Three-quarters have either a high school diploma or some college, but only 10 percent have earned a college degree. With this level of schooling, the majority of adults work at blue-collar jobs - the highest rate in the nation - though some hold low-level positions in sales and the service-sector. While the pay may be below average, these dual-income couples make enough to support outdoorsy, child-centered lifestyles.
Life in Families in Motion looks a lot like it did a half-century ago. These young families enjoy a lot of outdoor activities, including swimming, fishing, camping, hunting and hiking. On weekends many take their kids to movies, bowling alleys and fast-food restaurants. At their homes, the adults like to gather together to play cards and games after enjoying a home-cooked meal. For vacations, they pile their kids into their trucks, SUVs and RVs and head to family-friendly motels and campgrounds near a theme park, state fair, zoo or aquarium. If there’s a NASCAR racetrack nearby, so much the better.
Families in Motion are conservative shoppers who are loyal to brands and stores that provide them the most value. They prefer local retailers to national chains but, when they need a large selection of clothing or housewares, they’re willing to drive an hour to a discount department store like Walmart, Kmart, Dollar General and Sam’s Club. They’d hardly qualify as early tech adopters, but they still make a strong market for DVD players, DVRs, Blu-ray devices and MP3 players. These households are also proud gearheads: more than half own three or more vehicles, though they tend to buy used cars with American nameplates like Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler.
With their busy leisure lives, these households have selective media tastes. They like to stay informed listening to radio, tuning in to stations that offer news as well as golden oldies, country, religious and adult contemporary music. They’re average fans of TV, though they often watch programs with their kids on children’s cable channels like Disney, Nickelodeon, ABC Family and the Cartoon Network. While they’re not big on print media, they do subscribe to a number of magazines, including American Baby, Outdoor Life, ESPN and Family Handyman. Some have little patience for advertising, but many are receptive to messages on billboards, in movie theaters and over the Internet - whether as email, sponsored searches or links.
Politically, this is conservative territory. Families in Motion are almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, but their political outlook is far to the right. They’re religious, patriotic, and against big government. They rarely join organizations other than the PTA and their local unions, and they donate to relatively few causes. However, most are active in their local churches and they’re always willing to contribute to a church project.
The young families in Families in Motion often use digital media. They go online to communicate through instant messages, emails and message boards and chat forums. Many set up their desktop computers to entertain their children, and these households also use the Internet to play games, download music and watch videos. However, the grownups here are also Web-savvy, and they like visiting sites for social networking (facebook.com), motorsports (nascar.com), researching products (kmart.com) and gaming (zynga.com).