Retirees living in settled residences and communities
With more than 90 percent of members over 65 years old, Golden Year Guardians are the oldest group. The seniors in these four segments are predominantly white, poorly-educated and living on extremely modest retirement funds. Nearly two-thirds are widowed and living alone; the remainder are empty-nesting married couples. Many now reside in active retirement communities after having uprooted themselves from their family homes so they could live among people of similar ages and incomes. These members of the Greatest Generation typically came from humble origins and now enjoy unpretentious lifestyles.
Golden Year Guardians are scattered throughout the nation, though they’re centered in Sun Belt suburban retirement communities like Sun City, Ariz., Delray Beach, Fla., and Laguna Woods, Calif. Many are still living the American dream of home ownership, though their modest cottages and bungalows are valued at three-quarters of the national average. A quarter live in apartments which are a mix of condos, garden-style apartments and older retirement homes, located in larger cities where they’ve lived for many years. Many have sought out communities where they could live free of urban concerns like crime and rush-hour traffic. Others have moved to new locations for a chance to establish new friendships and engage in new leisure activities.
With incomes half the national average, many Golden Year Guardians households face financial challenges as they struggle to get by on their Social Security checks and pensions. Only a small percentage has a substantial nest egg or investment portfolios. When they were growing up, many had few educational opportunities, and more than two-thirds failed to go beyond high school. They typically held jobs in the blue-collar and service sectors. Today, more than 80 percent are retired and living on fixed incomes. While many have paid off their mortgages - one- third has lived at the same address for over two decades - they still lack the discretionary cash to enjoy a carefree retirement.
Golden Year Guardians tend to lead quiet lifestyles. Their social life revolves around various community groups, and they belong to churches and synagogues as well as veterans’ clubs and arts groups. They spend a lot of their time in their residences reading books, gardening and doing needlework. For fun, they like to play cards, see a play, try their luck at bingo, or go out to dinner at home-style restaurants like Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel and Old Country Buffet. Foreign travel is outside their budgets, but many enjoy a trip to Maine or North Dakota by train, excursion bus or RV. A big trip is a cruise along the Alaskan coast or around the Caribbean.
Golden Year Guardians tend to be conservative, whether the subject is politics or shopping. They stick to favorite brands when it comes to fashion, patronizing mid-market stores like Bealls, Stein Mart and Dillard’s. While they like to buy new cars every few years - sedans or luxury models preferably made in America - they’re more reticent about acquiring consumer electronics. They describe themselves as tech-shy, and buy no new electronic gadgets more than the average.
Golden Year Guardians are a strong market for traditional media. They subscribe to daily newspapers to stay informed and like listening to newscasts on the radio. They describe TV as their main source of entertainment; they watch news, movies, game shows and sitcoms. Many arrange their schedules around favorite TV programs, typically shows on cable networks like AMC, CNBC, the Golf Channel, Hallmark Channel and Movie Channel. These seniors are a prime market for women’s and home magazines such as Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, Country Living and Better Homes & Gardens. Most are still shy about the Internet, telling researchers that computers leave them baffled.
At the ballot box, it comes as no surprise that this group of seniors is solidly Republican. They have high rates for voting and describe their political outlook as “very conservative”. Though they’re not big on demonstrating over an issue, they will donate to political, environmental and health causes.
Golden Year Guardians are not active in digital media. They have little high-speed Internet access, and they are late adopters of smartphones and handheld devices. However, they are discovering the Internet in increasing numbers, and recent research shows that they go online to browse sites that offer banking, insurance, travel and legal services. They enjoy sending e- greetings to friends and relatives. They’re discovering the Internet as an information tool for news, political affairs and sports highlights involving golf, horse racing, baseball and motorsports. Among their favorite Websites are those related to health, illnesses and caregiving.