Diverse, mid- and low-income families in urban apartments and residences
Cultural Connections are first- and second-generation Americans who are striving to improve their lives. The six segments in this group have one of the highest proportions of adoptive citizens in the U.S. More than half the households are Hispanic - more than four times the national average - and most consist of middle-aged couples with children and single-parent families. Many face enormous challenges: modest educations, low wages, uncertain jobs and language barriers. In these segments, 40 percent of residents were born in Mexico and mostly speak Spanish inside and outside their homes. While that may produce tight-knit Hispanic communities, it also hampers assimilation and advancement in American society.
The migration patterns of Cultural Connections reflect one of the nation’s latest demographic changes. Instead of clustering in large metropolitan neighborhoods, many new Latinos now settle in small cities along the nation’s southern border, from Texas to California, as well as Northeastern states like New York, where there is a ready market for blue-collar and service- sector workers. They live in older neighborhoods where the housing stock was built before 1950 and values today are only half the national average. They typically rent older apartments and houses, and their living situation can be somewhat transient. More than two-thirds have lived at the same address for fewer than three years, with many in a constant search for better jobs and nicer apartments.
Cultural Connections have below-average educations. More than half never finished high school; fewer than 10 percent have college degrees. Given this low educational achievement, many struggle with lower-paying service-sector and blue-collar jobs in construction and food services; their household income is 40 percent below average and many are unemployed. With fewer than half owning cars, they rely on public transportation. Yet for all their economic challenges, many would admit that their current lifestyle is an improvement over what they experienced in their homelands.
Cultural Connections pursue active, sports-intensive lifestyles. They often play team sports like soccer, basketball, baseball and football; they also enjoy more urban-associated activities like boxing and skateboarding. On weekends, they’ll go to local establishments, nightclubs, a bingo game or dance performance, or they’ll take their kids to family-friendly venues like zoos, theme parks, skating rinks and horse stables. At home, they like to pursue hobbies like painting, playing music and needlework. These young families don’t seem to spend much time relaxing.
Despite their limited budgets, these households enjoy shopping and like to experiment with styles. They also like stores that offer lots of brands, especially discount stores such Marshalls. A majority are unable to afford cars, but those who do tend to drive subcompacts, sedans and minivans, mostly used and imported. They find it hard to resist consumer electronics, often buying MP3 players, DVD players and videocams. With low rates for using credit cards and ATM machines, they typically pay for everything with cash.
Cultural Connections make a mixed audience for most media. Most like to keep up with Latin news, music and sports and they say that radio is their chief form of entertainment, especially stations that feature Mexican, Tejano, Latin ballads and salsa music. They rely on magazines to stay informed and they read English-language publications like Parents, Allure, Glamour and Maxim. Though they have little interest in watching most U.S. TV stations, they do like watching programs with their kids on MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1. Perhaps because they receive fewer ad messages than more upscale groups, they’re receptive to a variety of ad channels: billboards, movie theaters, buses, trains and taxis. These consumers say that they’re loyal to companies that advertise in Spanish.
While Cultural Connections mostly identify themselves as liberal Democrats, voting rates are low - almost 40 percent below average. Only a small percentage is actively involved in the political process. They rarely donate money to political or other causes and fewer than 15 percent have ever marched in a protest.
The middle-aged members of this group do not often go online, and relatively few access the Internet for transactional activities like banking, shopping and looking for work. They mainly use the Internet for entertainment and communication, often to stay in touch with family and friends living outside the U.S. Many join chat forums, post bulletin board messages and download music. They also use the Internet like a virtual encyclopedia to learn more about music, books, mobile phones and games.