Older divorced and widowed individuals enjoying settled urban lives
Booming and Consuming arose from the migration of older couples and widowed individuals, seeking a more relaxed pace of life, to small towns. With most of these households between 50 and 75 years old, they’re starting to empty their nests and enjoy their retirements. They tend to have average educations and, for those still in the workforce, have jobs in a mix of white-collar professions and the service sector. Their mid-scale incomes typically allow them to afford to own a recently-built ranch with a well-landscaped yard in a Sun Belt community. With their children grown and out of the house, these mature adults have crafted a cushy lifestyle that’s heavy on recreation and leisure.
The lack of children to nurture and clothe means more disposable income for travel and outdoor activities. These households are big on heading to nearby parks and woodlands for fishing, hunting and boating. They enjoy long car trips and cruises, and a significant number own RVs for scenic vacations. They may not live close to downtown centers, but they’ve carried their love for culture with them and will drive to a city to attend a play or concert. For a splurge, they’ll go to an antique show or a casino.
With their mid-scale incomes and healthy savings accounts, they can afford to be materialistic. However, as consumers, Booming and Consuming have little need for status recognition and prefer to focus on price when shopping. They typically patronize discount department stores. Many are interested in home décor as well as electronic furnishings like flat-screen TVs and DVD players. They tend not to be flashy except when it comes to their cars. While large trucks are popular with this segment, members also buy luxury imports from Jaguar and Porsche.
With its mix of adults still working and those already retired, values in Booming and Consuming are wide-ranging. Their relative open-mindedness is a reflection of their generation and life experiences. Although the highest concentration is conservatives who vote with the Republican Party, many also espouse liberal views. Reflecting the pristine surroundings of their towns, everyone seems to agree on the value of recycling to help protect the environment. Additionally, many are active in community affairs; they support arts, political and environmental groups.
While they may have moved to secluded exurban settings, Booming and Consuming like to stay current with mainstream culture. They typically read a daily newspaper and subscribe to magazines like The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly. They have eclectic music tastes - from bluegrass to jazz - and tune in to news talk radio to keep up with the issues of the day. They have an ongoing love affair with TV, watching a variety of sitcoms, dramas and reality shows. These older Americans have even embraced the Internet and go online to shop, get the latest headlines and download information like stock reports; some have even equipped their home offices with wireless Internet access.
Booming and Consuming are older couples and singles who are beginning to enjoy the first years of empty nests and retirement. Typically in their 50s and 60s, these Americans are predominantly white, have average educations - two-thirds have high school diplomas or some college - and are solidly middle-class. Mostly married - though a high percentage are widowed - these households tend to work in service-sector or white-collar professions. However, more than 20 percent are already retired and these households pursue a relaxing exurban lifestyle.
Booming and Consuming are scattered around the country, but are mostly concentrated in Sun Belt communities in the South and West. They tend to live in recently-built ranch homes and contemporary condos that have above-average values of more than $230,000. A small, but above-average, percentage of these exurban homes is set on sprawling yards over two acres in size. Many of these older Americans are newcomers to their communities, having moved in during the last seven years, and they’re still getting used to the lifestyle and a number have other properties that they like to visit on weekends and vacations.
Booming and Consuming like the fresh air of their small-town communities. They enjoy a variety of outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting, canoeing and kayaking. They travel regularly to domestic locations, taking car and RV vacations to gambling casinos and beachside resorts. They have cultured sensibilities, enjoying plays, museums and concerts featuring every kind of music from country to classical. They also like to spend quiet evenings at home reading, cooking and polishing their antiques, but they’re not homebodies. They like to get out and tend their gardens or go bird-watching in nearby woods. Dinner out means ordering steak at chain restaurants like Outback, Texas Roadhouse or Lone Star Steakhouse.
Booming and Consuming can be characterized as consumption evangelists; they are passionate about what they buy and willing to influence others about their preferences. They tend to wear conservative clothing and are usually consumed with getting the best deal. They think that clothes from discounters are just as good as those from department stores, and they shop at retailers like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Fashion Bug. They also try to keep up with the latest developments in technology, and they love to buy new DVD players and flat-screen TVs. To get around their small towns, many buy trucks and SUVs, but they also will buy luxury sedans from Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
An eclectic media market, Booming and Consuming like to stay informed. They read a daily newspaper, turning first to the business, fashion and home sections. They’re drawn to a wide variety of magazines that cover pop culture and interior design - everything from Bon Appétit and Country Living to Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker. When it comes to the radio, this segment tunes in to bluegrass and traditional pop as well as soul and jazz. These Americans are big TV fans, even self-described TV addicts. They’ll watch almost anything - except commercials - on the small screen: sitcoms, reality programs, movies, dramas and game shows. Popular shows in this segment include “The Closer,” “House,” “Burn Notice” and “Dancing with the Stars”. If they don’t always eat together, they will still gather as a family to watch the nightly news.
These Americans are happy with their standard of living and want to preserve it. They are conservative in their thinking and active in the Republican Party, but they aren’t strict ideologues. Although proud conservatives, they aren’t traditional conservatives; for example, they’re all for women in the workplace and men refusing to give up family time to advance their careers. Philanthropic by nature, they donate money to a wide variety of causes: cultural, political, environmental and religious. They are the party backers who will take a date to a GOP fundraiser.
Booming and Consuming may have only been in their communities a short time, but they’re already involved citizens exploring everything their towns have to offer. They’re interested in the arts, look for new home decorating ideas when they shop and like tasting new foods and drinks. They’re not afraid to appear unconventional and they believe other cultures have a great deal to offer.
These Americans make an effort for health, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. They count calories, like buying from health food stores and seek out information on nutrition. However, they’re not hardcore foodies. Sometimes they’re too busy to cook from scratch, so they turn to ready-to-eat meals and frozen food.
With their sizable nest egg and moderate incomes, Booming and Consuming are well-financed for their retirement. They’re active investors who have filled their 401(k)s, IRAs and Keoghs with company stock, mutual funds, money market accounts and tax-sheltered annuities. They carry a moderate amount of insurance - life, health, umbrella and homeowner - for added protection. They’ve already tapped some of their equity for a home renovation or auto loan. Many households like the status and membership points that come with carrying prestige credit cards. These Americans are careful with their money and relatively conservative with their investments: compared to the general population, they’re nearly twice as likely to own super-safe, long-term CDs.
Contrary to the reputation of older Americans being unappreciative of new media, Booming and Consuming are enthusiastic Internet users. They go online for information and entertainment, blogging, checking stocks, making travel arrangements and getting news. Their favorite Websites include travelocity.com, ameritrade.com, singlesnet.com, legacy.com and hgtv.com. After gathering information about a product - often from a sponsored Website - they’re willing to make a purchase. They’re not yet comfortable surfing the Net with cell phones, but they tend to have high-speed cable connections through their laptops and a high number also access the Internet through wireless connections.