Elderly couples and widowed individuals living active and comfortable lifestyles
Footloose and Family Free are a mix of elderly couples and widowed individuals, many living in retirement communities across the South. With more than three-quarters over the age of 65, they’re mostly out of the workforce and enjoying comfortable retirements. Despite no longer supporting children, many live in detached houses on small plots that they moved to after retirement. Some of their communities are age-restricted, and there are few children to be seen except for visiting grandchildren. Nearly eight in ten households contain a grandparent.
With their solid incomes from pensions and investments, Footloose and Family Free can afford comfy lifestyles. They’re fit, politically active and surprisingly liberal for their age, typically leading busy social lives. They still drive, often mid-range sedans, and like to go out at night. They dine frequently at white-tablecloth restaurants and regularly go to plays, classical concerts and events at the local veterans’ club. They’re very health conscious and like to spend time each week exercising at a gym, where they engage in fitness walking, swimming and aerobics. They can afford to take frequent holidays, and they enjoy taking trips by plane, train, or cruise ship to Europe and Asia. They like to go in style, staying at a Ritz-Carlton or Fairmont hotel.
That fondness for the finer things can be seen in the way they shop. They like to buy quality clothes and designer labels at mid-upscale retailers like Nordstrom, Bealls, Chico’s and Coldwater Creek. They tend to be brand-loyal, seeking out styles that have stood them well for years. They like to buy a new car every few years and, if they want something other than the typical Cadillac or Lincoln, a sedan from Hyundai or Honda is typically their choice. They can afford such niceties thanks to judicious investments throughout their career. Today, many own diversified portfolios of stocks, mutual funds, CDs and tax-sheltered annuities. These are not Americans who flaunt their affluence, but with many owning a vacation home or time share in addition to their home, they’re more than comfortable. Nearly half own three or more cars.
Footloose and Family Free make a point to be active, mentally stimulated and socially engaged. They enjoy entertaining friends at home, which often involves playing card games like bridge or pinochle. But when they want to relax, it’s often on a living room couch with some printed matter or a TV remote close at hand. These older Americans like to read, books, magazines, newspapers - you name it. They like to stay informed and they often enjoy reading a daily newspaper from cover to cover. They enjoy a number of magazines that cover news, sports, food and travel. They’re fond of watching TV, particularly news, documentaries, history programs and movies. They’ve only recently begun using the Internet, but they’ve learned enough to follow their stocks, get health information and send e-greetings to their kids and grandkids.
Footloose and Family Free recognize their good fortune. They say they’re content with their life and feel financially secure. They’re more liberal than other senior segments, often voting Democratic. However, they’re conservative when it comes to their health; they watch what they eat and stay on top of medical issues with the help of their doctor, their local library and health Websites. These elderly Americans don’t worry too much about the future, though, and are happy with their lives today.
Footloose and Family Free are predominantly white empty-nest couples and widowed individuals; the percentage of widows and widowers is roughly twice the national average. Nearly half are over 76 years old; three-quarters are older than 65. Their educations are below average, with a third holding high school diplomas and only 20 percent having a college degree. The small percentage still in the workforce tends to have jobs in sales and service-sector professions. Virtually all the members of this segment have grown children, and more than three- quarters of the households contain grandparents, more than twice the national average.
Concentrated in retirement communities and suburban enclaves across the South, Footloose and Family Free are mostly homeowners living in relatively modest homes and condos. Some have settled in age-restricted communities like the Sun City communities in Arizona or Florida; more than half the households are found in Florida, while others have moved to modest ramblers and condos averaging about $140,000 in diverse suburbs where their pensions can go far. Their housing is relatively new, the majority having been built between 1970 and 1990, and many of these householders moved to their current address after their retirement. A majority have lived at the same address for over a decade.
With their comfortable pensions supplemented by investments, Footloose and Family Free enjoy active retirements. They like to go to plays, classical concerts and casinos. They frequently go out to dinner, often hitting the early-bird specials at local restaurants and to mid-market chains like the Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. These folks have the time and money to travel in style, taking cruises and trips across the U.S. and abroad, particularly to Europe and Asia. When they check in at a hotel, it’s usually a full-service, upscale property like a Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton or Intercontinental.
At home, they like to relax by reading books, playing cards and doing hobbies like photography, needlework and adding to their collections of coins and crystal figures. They make time to exercise each week by taking aerobics classes, fitness walking, swimming and playing golf. They spend more time indoors, however, enjoying a variety of media. They subscribe to newspapers, often going through the advertising supplements first before turning to the entertainment, travel, food and editorial sections. They also look to magazines to stay informed, subscribing to publications such as Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Time and Southern Living. Their main form of entertainment is TV; these viewers watch cable channels such as AMC, CNN, Travel, the Food Network and Fox News.
Footloose and Family Free are traditionalists in the marketplace as well. They describe themselves as brand-loyal consumers who stick with favorite styles and stores. They prefer local stores to national chains, but when they make a major shopping excursion, it often takes them to retailers like Costco, Chico’s, Macy’s and Coldwater Creek. They don’t mind paying higher prices as long as they get good quality for clothing, accessories, electronics and, especially, automobiles. When they buy a car, which is every two or three years, it’s typically a Cadillac or a Lincoln, though luxury imports are also popular. These seniors are all about leading quality lives and that means giving back to the community as well. They’re known for their philanthropy, donating to a variety of health, arts, environmental and social science charities.
Footloose and Family Free generally have sunny dispositions. They’re happy with their life, content with their standard of living and optimistic about the future. They have a genuine interest in people and enjoy entertaining at home. They say that it’s important to stay active, learn new things and remain well-informed. That’s one reason why they remain active politically, with nearly 90 percent registered to vote and an above-average share describing themselves as liberal Democrats. These spiritual people are comfortable in their skin and try to make the most of their days.
With their advanced age, Footloose and Family Free make a strong effort for health. They want to stay young and maintain that it’s important to look attractive to others. They make a point of exercising regularly. They eat defensively, by trying to maintain a healthy diet, avoiding fast food and watching their calories. At the grocery store, they’re the shoppers reading the ingredients of products before they buy. If they do become sick, they often research treatments on their own before conferring with their doctor. These traditionalists trust their doctor.
Having worked most of their lives, Footloose and Family Free now get by on comfortable pensions, social security and income-producing assets. While their incomes are below average, at less than $42,000, their expenses also tend to be modest, so they’re twice as likely as average Americans to feel financially secure. An above-average number have investments, with typically $100,000 or below in a mix of stocks, mutual funds, money markets and tax-sheltered annuities. They tend to have a large number of credit cards, including travel, gas and department store cards, and pay off their balances each month. These older households also make a strong market for insurance, particularly auto and homeowners’ insurance. However, many have only a modest amount of life insurance. These Americans aren’t too concerned about leaving a large inheritance to their children and are content to spend down their assets to support their lifestyles.
Footloose and Family Free are relative newcomers to digital media, but they’re slowly getting comfortable with surfing the Internet. They now regularly go to Websites to book flights and cruises, get more information on health conditions and check their stocks and standings of favorite golfers. Many also go online to keep tabs on their sprawling families, and one of their favorite activities is sending e-greetings to grandchildren. With their fondness for gambling, it’s perhaps not surprising that their top-ranked Website is the Florida Lottery. One of these days, they believe, their numbers will surely hit it big.