Upper middle-class, established couples living leisure lifestyles in small towns and cities
Birkenstocks and Beemers are dominated by couples in their 40s and 50s living in mid-scale communities that offer the benefits of a relaxed lifestyle while still being within a reasonable drive of the amenities offered by smaller cities. These households feature educated couples and divorced and widowed individuals who seek to exit the rat race so they can enjoy life’s simpler pleasures. Many hold jobs in white-collar, service-sector or sales professions. With their mid- scale incomes and low-cost locations, they can afford to own older homes and condos in communities that offer a sense of belonging, even if they’ve only lived in their home for a few years.
These Americans have rediscovered the joys of leisure. They like to travel abroad and take cruises to warm weather destinations. They have the time and taste to frequent plays, museums and antique shows. They enjoy eating out, particularly at casual dining restaurants with decent salad bars and two-for-one specials. They also take pleasure in what they cook up at home - figuratively and literally. They enjoy woodworking, needlepoint, gardening and cooking. They’re fond of traditional media; they read newspapers, listen to the radio and watch cable TV programs on the Hallmark Channel and AMC. They’re still rookies when it comes to the Internet, but they increasingly go online for news, travel planning and shopping. If they want exercise, they can literally step out the door and hike to their local waterway or woodsy trail.
When they go shopping, Birkenstocks and Beemers care more about bargains than brands. They prefer specialty stores to national chains, appreciating solicitous clerks to the cavernous warehouse clubs. Although they ignore designer labels on the clothes racks, they do have a soft spot for fancy cars, tending to buy premium imports from Saab, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari off the showroom floor. Asked what moves them to buy a car, and they typically cite “looks” first.
Birkenstocks and Beemers are politically left-of-center, but they tend to be moderate on social issues. They align themselves with the Democratic Party, but these people don’t like to raise their voices to offend anyone. They prefer to let their money do their talking, donating to a variety of art, political, environmental and social-service causes. Having reached a contented phase in their lives, Birkenstocks and Beemers are happy to spend their free time relaxing with their new neighbors. They have little drive to reach the top of their careers; they’d rather spend time with their family or grill up a steak with their expanding circle of friends.
Birkenstocks and Beemers reflect the growing trend of white, middle-class couples settling in small towns and retirement communities rather aging in place in big cities. Most adults are between 45 and 65 years old, and the households include mostly childless couples, although a high percentage feature divorced and widowed individuals. These households tend to have above-average educations, with more than 40 percent having gone to college. Most adults are still in the workforce, doing a mix of mid-level jobs in white-collar and technical professions as well as sales and service. Some also work in hospitality and the arts, reflecting the nature of their rustic communities.
There's a crunchy granola feel to the Birkenstocks and Beemers households in their artsy small towns - including vacation hotspots like Sun Valley, Idaho, Edgartown, Mass., Lake Arrowhead, Calif., and Kilauea, Hawaii. Many have moved to their homes in the last five to ten years, drawn to the slower pace of the smaller communities not too far from the big-city sprawl. The housing stock is varied, and they tend to own single-family homes and condos valued at close to the national average. But many of these households look to their properties as investments for the future - and places where they’d eventually like to retire.
Birkenstocks and Beemers tend to have active but not obsessive lifestyles. They have a cultural streak and go to museums, antique shows and plays. They like to travel to places they’ve never been, and they take cruise ships to Mexico and the Bahamas. They also make a strong market for dining out to casual restaurants, particularly TGI Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday and Longhorn Steakhouse.
However, many spend a lot of their leisure time around their house. Birkenstocks and Beemers like to read books, cook, garden and do crafts like needlework and woodworking. Their idea of exercise is taking a yoga class. They also enjoy fitness walking through their scenic communities, preferably with a camera to indulge their love of photography.
They tend to be practical, price-sensitive shoppers. They like to buy clothes that are functional and long-lasting, and they’re not big on new styles or the latest designer fashion. They like to buy from stores with a comfortable environment, and they’re willing to wait for a sale to get a better price, even if the difference is only a few dollars. They prefer specialty stores to the national chains, but they still shop at Kohl’s, Stein Mart and Coldwater Creek. They also express a need for status recognition through their choice of car. They like vehicles that look good and impress people, and they tend to buy premium CUVs, sports cars and sedans. Though they say they prefer to buy Detroit-made vehicles, they have a high rate for owning imports.
With their home-centered lifestyles, Birkenstocks and Beemers make solid media audiences. They like to read daily newspapers and listen to the radio on their commutes to work; their eclectic musical tastes range from classical to country. When it comes to TV, they like to watch newscasts, general dramas, game shows and how-to programs. Their favorite cable channels include A&E, AMC, the Hallmark Channel and the Golf Channel. While they tend to mute the TV whenever a commercial comes on, they’re more receptive to ads they see online and at movie theaters.
Birkenstocks and Beemers have reached a stage in their lives where they’ve begun to step back and enjoy themselves. They’re happy with their standard of living and like to relax with a close circle of friends. They worry about the environment and think people have a duty to recycle and condemn companies that pollute. They’d also like their family to think they’re doing well financially.
Birkenstocks and Beemers don’t get too excited by many of the hot-button issues of the day. They follow the general population with moderate views on social issues, equal rights and crime. Politically, they’re left of center in their outlook but exhibit only average rates for being affiliated with the Democratic Party. They rarely speak their mind if they know it will upset people, and only a small percentage will join a protest if they become angered about an issue.
Now in the twilight of their careers, many Birkenstocks and Beemers have found fulfillment in their work. However, they’re not workaholics and would rather spend time with their family than claw their way to the top. With a low penchant for risk-taking and a tendency to put their happiness before duty, members of this segment have chosen to emphasize the life side of their work-life balance. To them, it doesn’t get any better than sharing a gourmet meal with their close circle of friends in a community they’ve grown to love.
With solid incomes that top $75,000, Birkenstocks and Beemers can well afford their resort-style lives. Active investors, they’ve accumulated plenty of income-producing assets: stocks, mutual funds, CDs, bonds and tax-sheltered annuities. They’re twice as likely as average Americans to have more than $100,000 in their IRA accounts. These established households have good credit ratings, allowing them to take on home equity and car loans. They also carry a number of charge cards for department stores, gas stations and routine expenses, paying most off each month. They make a receptive audience for insurance, carrying health, life and umbrella coverage, though the policy values aren’t especially high. In their laid-back communities, they just don’t see the need for too much protection. They describe themselves as careful money managers who have achieved a sense of financial security.
Birkenstocks and Beemers like the Internet, although they tend to use it no more than average. They mostly go online for utilitarian purposes: banking, travel planning, auto and house hunting, checking movie reviews and making purchase. Many go online for telecommuting and, though they haven’t yet started accessing the Internet using their cell phones, they typically use their laptops to access the web while at hotels during business trips. Getting news and business recommendations is also popular among these households, and they have high rates for going to new and media sites such as Accuweather, CNN and FoxNews, classifieds such as Craigslist, and travel, lifestyle and sports sites which feature college games, golf, horseracing, football and motorsports. In these older households, many are receptive to online advertising, click on email ads and use sponsored search results.