Multi-cultural, low-income singles and single parents living in urban locations and striving to make a better life
Aspirational Fusion are a transient group, with younger, ethnically-mixed singles and single parents in low-income neighborhoods. Concentrated in older, industrial areas, members of this group are drawn to the affordable, fixer-upper apartments where housing values are 40 percent below average. In the group’s two segments, nearly three-quarters are under the age of 45, and nine out of ten households contain unmarried individuals. With nearly two-thirds of these households containing single parents, this group reflects the recent lifestyle trend of unmarried couples living together, especially among younger people who feel they are not ready for the financial commitment expected in marriage. Many are trying to raise families on low incomes and tight budgets.
Aspirational Fusion mostly live in satellite cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast, typically in densely packed apartment complexes in places like Tulsa, Okla., Muncie, Ind., and Schenectady, N.Y. The housing stock is old - half the homes were built before 1925 - and often located within an atmosphere of factory noise, litter-strewn streets and industrial odors. Any fancy restaurants, nightclubs or movie theaters left these areas a long time ago; they were replaced by corner grocers, carry-outs and hair salons. These low-rise apartments and brownstone row houses often serve as an entry point for those who are just starting out or starting over.
Education has not been a priority of many members of Aspirational Fusion. Nearly 45 percent never completed high school; only 6 percent have college degrees. Most adults work at low-level service-sector and blue-collar jobs in health care, food services and manufacturing, though unemployment is nearly twice the national average. Even many households having multiple workers, their income is less than half the national average. Clearly these workers struggle to get by and are always looking to improve their circumstances with a better job or apartment. Nearly half have lived at the same address for under a year, three-quarters for fewer than three years.
For Aspirational Fusion, their active social lives ease some of the burden of their economic challenges. Despite their low incomes, they manage to take advantage of many city amenities. They go to local establishments, nightclubs, movie theaters, plays and comedy clubs. They play a lot of sports in nearby parks and playgrounds, including basketball, baseball, soccer and football. Those with young children enjoy taking their kids to theme parks, aquariums and state fairs. Many like to wind down at home by listening to music, cooking and reading gaming magazines.
Despite their tight budgets, Aspirational Fusion are big on shopping, keeping up with the latest fashion and trying to make a unique statement with their clothes. They prefer to shop at discount stores near their apartments, but they also patronize national chains like Marshalls, Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s and Fashion Bug. While only a third can afford to buy cars, many own electronic devices like DVD players and big-screen TVs. These households are serious music fans who don’t mind splurging on the latest MP3 player to listen to reggae, soul, hip hop and rhythm and blues.
These households barely register when it comes to consuming most media. They rarely subscribe to newspapers or magazines other than parenting, food and entertainment titles. They don’t often watch TV, other than cable channels such as BET, Cinemax, Disney, Lifetime, Oxygen and VH1. Notwithstanding their fondness for music, they have little tendency to listen to the radio. With many taking public transit to work, they’re more likely to get their tunes from ear buds than car radios.
Politically, Aspirational Fusion are a mostly apathetic group. They have below-average rates for registering to vote, joining community groups or donating money to political and social causes. A majority align themselves with the Democratic Party, but many insist that their political outlook is more conservative than liberal.
With their modest incomes and educations, Aspirational Fusion represent only a moderate digital market. However, many of these city-based minorities are big fans of telephony and access the Internet through their cell phones. They tend to go online for practical purposes, such as finding a job, an educational program or a car. Many also use the Internet for entertainment and social networking, and their favorite Websites include facebook.com, myspace.com and blackplanet.com.