Relaxed, retired couples and widowed individuals in suburban homes living quiet lives
A haven for elderly Americans, Reaping Rewards are over 65 years old and no longer in the workforce. As members of the Greatest Generation, they grew up during the Depression and World War II, typically married young and then thrived in the workplace in the latter half of the 20th century. Today these seniors - a mix of elderly couples and widowed individuals- are reaping the rewards of their many years of work and have settled in quiet subdivisions. They live well on decent pensions and investments.
They have done very well in managing their investments with their lower middle-class incomes. With reduced living expenses, Reaping Rewards can afford to own a comfortable cottage or ranch house worth about $275,000 - a price above the national average. Many moved to their homes in mixed-age communities about a decade ago, after their children had finally left home and they could retire with some financial security. No fans of the active retirement communities like Sun City and Leisure World, they’re happy in vibrant cities like Tucson, Ariz. and Yarmouth, Mass., with access to transportation hubs and top-flight hospitals. If they want to get away, they can always go to their second home, which many in this segment own.
Reaping Rewards are not about working up a sweat. They engage in a lot of indoor activities: watching TV and listening to classical music as well as pursuing hobbies like needlework and coin collecting. They also like to go out on the town; they attend concerts and plays and try their luck at casinos and bingo parlors. They have the disposable cash to dine out regularly, showing a fondness for casual restaurants such as Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday. After a lifetime of labor, these Americans enjoy traveling; they take cruises to the Mediterranean and drive, by RV, throughout the U.S.
Reaping Rewards have the money to shop, but they find little joy in consumption. These brand- loyal traditionalists like to buy tried-and-true styles at stores they’ve patronized for years. They’re regulars at mall retailers like Talbots and Nordstrom, but they don’t browse much; they typically grab a classic shirt or pair of slacks and then leave. They’re more enthusiastic about shopping by mail-order, where they buy books, women’s apparel and do-it-yourself items. While they’re admittedly tech-shy and own few consumer gadgets, they like cars that are equipped with all the latest options, especially new luxury sedans.
Reaping Rewards are also brand-loyal when it comes to media. They still read a newspaper from cover to cover every day. These well-read Americans read magazines, and subscribe to a variety of publications - from Architectural Digest to Reader’s Digest to Time. Many keep their TVs on all day for a comforting audio backdrop to their routine. Regarding TV as their main source of news and entertainment, they like to tune in to newscasts, talk shows, game shows and historical programs. Late-adopters when it comes to the Internet, they rarely go online for shopping or banking. However, they will do more age-specific activities online, like researching various ailments and maladies and making travel arrangements to visit their grandkids.
The values system of Reaping Rewards reflects old-fashioned mores. They’re religious Americans who express their faith by going to church and synagogue as well as watching religious TV shows. Risk-averse, they buy a lot of insurance products. They tend to vote Republican and they feel it’s more important to “do your duty than to enjoy life”. Active in their communities, these households are charitable, giving to nearly every kind of not-for-profit: religious, health, political, environmental and arts groups.
One of the oldest segments, Reaping Rewards are elderly couples and widowed individuals living quiet, suburban lifestyles and, as their name suggests, reaping the rewards of their hard work over the years. Mostly members of the Greatest Generation, more than half are over 75 years old; virtually all are over 65. Some 85 percent are retired, about six times the national average. With their moderate educations, household heads are about evenly divided between high-school and college graduates; they have decent incomes from pensions and income- producing assets. With their children grown and on their own, these predominantly white households are enjoying their twilight years in unpretentious communities.
The empty-nest couples and singles in Reaping Rewards live in suburban homes and apartments scattered across the nation. Hardly confined to active retirement communities, they tend to live in mix-aged subdivisions in cities like Boynton Beach, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and Yarmouth, Mass. Many live in comfortable ranch houses and cottages on modest lots in relatively new subdivisions built since 1980. The typical home value - more than $275,000 - is nearly 20 percent above average. A large proportion moved in to their neighborhoods after raising their families and retiring from work. A majority have lived at the same address for over a decade.
For Reaping Rewards, much of their time is now spent indoors. They like to read, cook, watch TV and listen to music, particularly Broadway tunes, gospel, easy listening and classical. Many finally have the time to enjoy hobbies like needlework, playing cards and collecting coins, porcelain figurines and crystal objects. Their idea of exercise is gardening, golfing and bird- watching.
However, these seniors still have the energy to get up and go. They often dine out, frequenting casual restaurants like Ruby Tuesday, Bob Evans, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. They make a strong market for travel domestically and abroad, especially for cruises to Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. They also enjoy taking package tours to Europe and Canada, where they can be assured of good hospitals and safe streets. They’re three times as likely as average Americans to travel by RV. With their solid educations, they often have subscription tickets to their local performing arts hall, enjoying plays and concerts; classical music is popular, as is the occasional country concert. However, when Reaping Rewards want to really let their hair down, they go gambling at casinos and bingo parlors.
In the marketplace, Reaping Rewards wouldn’t qualify as shopaholics. Brand-loyal, they tend to go to the stores they know and pick up the traditional styles they like. Many like to prowl the malls for exercise as much as browsing; their favorite stores are often upscale retailers like Chico’s, Talbots, Coldwater Creek and Nordstrom. They prefer to buy items made in the USA, but that’s not a rigid rule. When they buy a new car, which is every two or three years, they’re just as likely to buy a Toyota as a Ford, and their favorite nameplates run the gamut, from Buick sedans to luxury Lexus and Jaguar models.
Reaping Rewards are selective in their media tastes. These old-fashioned consumers still enjoy print media. They’re one of the few segments that still subscribes to newspapers - more than 50 percent above-average - and they tend to read the papers from cover to cover. They also read magazines, enjoying a wide range of titles: news, business, home, science and women’s issues. However, TV is their main source of entertainment. These Americans are among the top TV audiences in the early morning and often keep their TV set on most of the day. They look to TV to keep them informed, and tune in to cable channels like CNN and CNBC. For entertainment, they arrange their schedules around re-runs of classic TV shows like “Murder, She Wrote,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “M*A*S*H”. They’re still getting comfortable with the Internet, and many state that it’s only a minor part of their lives.
Reaping Rewards are traditional in their view of the world. They’re loyal to their friends, patronize companies that act ethically and espouse conservative political views. Their faith is important and they attend religious services regularly. While some older Americans may express jingoistic sentiments, they’re relatively tolerant of people from other countries, they make friends easily and they believe in respecting the customs and beliefs of others. Self-described members of the global village, they’re more likely than average Americans to be interested in international events.
Recognizing their advancing years, Reaping Rewards make a strong effort for health. They’re conscientious about having regular checkups and seeking medical care when they’re not feeling well. These are risk-averse households that are nearly twice as likely as average Americans to take preventive medicine and are willing to pay extra for health care not covered by their insurance. They try to eat a healthy diet - including fiber - avoid additives and seek out nutritional information. However, coupons to try new food can sway them and convenience sometimes trumps nutrition: they often buy convenient meals such as frozen dinners, store-made takeout and other easy-to-prepare foods.
At this stage in their lives, Reaping Rewards are happy with their lifestyle. They enjoy entertaining friends in their homes, which they’ve furnished with art and reminders of their travels. They support their communities and are willing to volunteer their time to maintain their neighborhoods. With their high voting rates, they normally vote the Republican ticket and support conservative causes. It’s difficult to find a group that they don’t belong to: arts organizations, church and synagogue groups, veterans’ clubs and the AARP can all count them as members. Stating that there’s little they can do to change their life, they have no fear about the future. These seniors have few regrets.
With their fixed incomes and income-producing assets, Reaping Rewards live comfortably on more than $55,000 a year. Although they’re financially conservative, they’re active investors who acquire stocks, bonds, mutual funds and tax-sheltered annuities. These Americans trust banks and have a number of accounts and CDs at their local branch. They make a strong market for most financial and insurance products. They carry almost every kind of credit card and conscientiously pay them off each month. They like buying life insurance, both term and whole- life insurance, though the value is usually less than $100,000. With many having already paid off their mortgages, they tend to have few debts. These folks take pride in being financially secure and staying current with all their bills. They nearly always pay their bills the old-fashioned way: by writing a check.
Reaping Rewards are one of the least active online segments in the nation. Compared to the general population, they’re nearly 50 percent less likely to have Internet access at home. Those who do, however, lead inquisitive lives online; they go to sites that focus on business and finance, news and health, and sports and travel. They’re not big on online shopping, but they do trust the Web enough to book cruises and flights, seek out health information and order from online pharmacies.