Lower middle-income rural families with diverse adult and children household dynamics
Red, White and Bluegrass are large households - two-thirds contain two or more children - and many also include aging seniors in addition to young adults. There’s an old-fashioned pride in these communities, where property is typically handed down over several generations. Many of the household heads grew up on area farms, married and have now moved into new subdivisions or mobile homes on large tracts of land. Although salaries are low, the dual incomes earned by these men and woman as construction workers, health care aides and retail clerks adequately support their lively, family-centered lifestyles. Nearly two-thirds own three or more cars to drive the long distances to their jobs, children’s activities and national retail chains.
Given the large families in this segment, most leisure activities involve kid-friendly venues like bowling alleys, zoos and aquariums, and many hours are devoted to chauffeuring children to and from their activities. They’re avid fans of outdoor sports such as football, swimming, hunting and canoeing. For vacations, they tend to take driving trips, either in cars or RVs, to destinations that offer beaches or theme parks. Red, White and Bluegrass also like to spend leisure time at home, cooking, playing games and doing crafts.
These households lack the discretionary income for luxury travel excursions or risky financial ventures. They have few investments; those they do have tend to be conservative products like saving bonds and CDs. With their homes located far from large malls, they’re infrequent shoppers who tend to stick to discount department stores for clothing, sports equipment and electronics. Although they describe themselves as tech-shy, they buy camcorders, DVD players and DVRs more than the average. They’re a particularly strong market for toys and games, particularly computer and video games. These consumers show a preference for products typical for a rural segment: they’re more likely than average Americans to buy trucks, jeans and work boots. Many ignore designer fashion or trendy styles; these households don’t want to stand out in a crowd.
Red, White and Bluegrass have a middling interest in media channels. They have few subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. They’re only moderate fans of TV programming - a surprise in a rural lifestyle segment. Instead, they describe radio as their favorite source of entertainment, especially stations that play traditional country and bluegrass in addition to religious programs and college football games. They’re also becoming more accepting of the Internet, going online for shopping, gaming and meeting other people. Similar to their use of catalogs for shopping, these consumers like to buy online for the convenience and large selection of otherwise hard-to-find products.
The conservative media tastes reflect the old-fashioned values of Red, White and Bluegrass. A number of these households are found in the Bible Belt, and they take their faith seriously. They go to church on Sunday and support conservative candidates during elections. Many are right-wing Republicans who support conservative social issues. At the grocery store, they are not concerned about additives or processed food. Indeed, many of these on-the-go families wish there were more fast-food restaurants in their communities to help them keep their brood fed and happy.
Red, White and Bluegrass are young white families in rural and small-town settings. Nine out of ten households contain married couples with kids. Many of the families are large and multi- generational: about half contain five or more people, and nearly a quarter contain an aged parent or a young adult. The adults tend to have average educations, with the highest percentage having high school diplomas; about a third of householders have some college education. Most hold low-paying blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, transportation and health care, but a significant percentage of adults also works in farming, sales and service-sector industries.
Red, White and Bluegrass are scattered across rural areas in the eastern half of the U.S. In these remote areas, they tend to live in newer single-family houses - ranch houses, farmhouses and bungalows - and more than 10 percent own manufactured homes. Many of their homes sit on sprawling lots - they’re nearly four times more likely than average to be over two acres - and campers and RVs often rest in backyards. Home values are still low, at about half the national average. Despite their youth, these families are settled in their communities, with most having lived at the same residence between five and 15 years.
The kid-filled households in Red, White and Bluegrass enjoy active, working-class lifestyles. They enjoy going to zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys and state fairs. Their most popular leisure activities include basketball, football, swimming, fishing, hunting and canoeing. They’re more likely to go to a country music concert than a play, classical performance or comedy club. However, the young households in this segment will watch movies, preferring family, horror and action-adventures that entertain both parents and children.
Red, White and Bluegrass are all-American homebodies. They have little interest in traveling abroad and prefer to take vacations in cars and RVs to nearby beaches, theme parks and campgrounds. On weekends, many adults prefer to stay home to play cards or board games, do woodworking or organize family photos, and maintain their collections of coins, stamps and miniature cars. They have only an average tendency to dine out, but when they do, they go to casual family restaurants like Cracker Barrel, Chuck E. Cheese’s and Red Lobster.
With their modest incomes, Red, White and Bluegrass aren’t big on shopping; they tend to make a lot of their purchases - clothes, food and sports equipment - at discount department stores like Walmart, Dollar General and Sam’s Club. They think that a used car is just as good as a new car, and they look for sturdy vehicles that can handle the rough terrain. Red, White and Bluegrass believe American cars are higher in quality than foreign makes. They’re influenced by their children in the marketplace, acquiring video games, fashion dolls and construction toys at chains like GameStop and Hobby Lobby; in fact, they buy most kinds of toys at rates twice the national average. Although they say that they like to look good for the opposite sex, they’re unwilling to invest in new fashion or designer labels. Less than 1 percent claim that wearing a designer label will improve their image.
Selective in their media tastes, Red, White and Bluegrass show relatively little interest in print media and watch only the average amount of TV, other than game shows and reality programs. Radio is their main source of entertainment, and they’re fond of stations that play bluegrass, country, adult contemporary, Christian rock music and college football games. They have mixed views on advertising, with average numbers saying they find ads either annoying or useful for learning about products. However, they always seem to like ads on billboards and in movie theaters.
God, family and country are the guideposts that govern Red, White and Bluegrass. These households are religious conservatives who value their faith and attend services on Sunday. They’re devoted family members who like spending time at home and wouldn’t dream of giving it up to advance professionally. They’re unabashedly patriotic, preferring to buy American-made products and having little interest in other cultures, customs or beliefs.
Red, White and Bluegrass identify themselves as religious conservatives. Ideologically, they align themselves with the Republican Party, and the highest concentration of voters places their political outlook at the far right. Compared to the general population, these young exurban families have above-average concerns about conservative social issues and less interest in environmental issues like recycling and air pollution. Other than wanting to please their families, they're not interested in impressing anyone else. They state, "people have to take me as they find me".
Beyond social issues, Red, White and Bluegrass adopt a more lenient attitude, especially where health and fitness are concerned. They tend to self-medicate with over-the-counter drugs, going to far-away doctors only when absolutely necessary. They like to cook but don’t pay attention to calories, artificial additives or the freshest ingredients. Sweets are okay. Frozen dinners are fine. “There’s nothing wrong with fattening foods,” they declare. They seem to have missed the whole organic food movement. Fast food, they argue, fits their family lifestyle.
With lower middle-class incomes of about $60,000 a year, Red, White and Bluegrass can support economical exurban lifestyles, but there is little left over to invest in income-producing assets. These households have average investments in mutual funds, CDs, savings bonds and tax-sheltered annuities; nearly a third are contributing to 401(k) plans. They tend to have a low amount of securities, usually worth less than $50,000. They use credit cards - typically standard rather than prestige cards - and they’ve taken to automated financial services such as debit cards and online bill paying. Preoccupied with early childrearing, they purchase a lot of life and health insurance. By leveraging the value of their homes, they also take out a range of loans, including personal, educational, home improvement and auto loans.
With its significant number of young adults, Red, White and Bluegrass are a moderate market for digital communications, commerce and entertainment. Households have average interest in going online to shop, bid in auctions, participate in chat forums and socialize with others. Among their favorite Websites are Craigslist, Myspace, Facebook and eBay. Their kids also occupy themselves with sites such as poptropica.com and runescape.com; they also listen to Internet radio. The parents also use their home computers for travel planning and training; this is a strong market for educational and gaming software. However, their slow Internet connections - they’re more than twice as likely as the general population to use dial-up modems - make more advanced digital services challenging. Their remoteness from the commercial mainstream encourages their receptivity to online advertising, and they have above-average response rates to email ads, sponsored Websites and links.