Middle-aged, mid-scale income singles and divorced individuals in secondary cities
Rolling the Dice are mid-scale singles and divorced couples living in older, city neighborhoods that have been bypassed by gentrification. These working-class, blue-collar laborers often live in rundown houses and funky apartments. Most are middle-aged and childless. Their educational profile is a mix of some high school, those with diplomas and many who have taken some college classes but never graduated. The majority work at lower-echelon service-sector or manual-labor jobs in transportation, sales, food services and construction. Despite their low incomes, many have managed to buy their homes, which typically were built more than a half- century ago.
Rolling the Dice lead unpretentious lifestyles and are happy to take advantage of nearby city amenities, spending their free time playing pool, going to movies or catching a meal at a fast- food joint like Popeyes or Church’s Fried Chicken. On weekends, they like to play team sports such as baseball and basketball. Because they work long hours, they don’t spend a lot of time at home, but when they do, they enjoy playing video games and listening to music. Ever in search of opportunities to make extra money, they like to gamble - whether it involves playing bingo, buying lottery tickets or taking a bus to a casino.
Most prefer to shop at nearby stores, typically buying what they need at the moment and ignoring the designer fashion of high-end boutiques. They patronize discount retailers like Family Dollar and Kmart, and look to local electronics stores for the latest mobile phones and consumer gadgets that they can afford. With fewer than half owning cars, they rely on public transit to get to their jobs and downtown entertainment. They have a moderate tendency to travel domestically, taking vacations by plane, rental car and - surprisingly, at a rate that’s twice the national average - RV.
Rolling the Dice regard media as entertainment rather than a vital source of news. They’re more likely than average Americans to watch a wide variety of TV programming. They’ll tell you that most magazines are worth the money, probably because they allow these armchair voyeurs to enjoy the lifestyles (Metropolitan Home), cars (Hot Rod) and fashion (Cosmopolitan) that they can rarely afford. They use the Internet, typically for entertainment: gaming, downloading music and blogging. They rarely bank online; in fact, they rarely set foot inside a real-world bank either. These risk-averse households have few investments and tend to survive by using plastic: both credit and debit cards are popular in this segment - saving for the future is not.
Recognizing that they have a long way to go in fulfilling their dreams, they say that they want to advance on the job and make more money. They’re open-minded about people and describe themselves as religious. Politically, they’re middle-of-the-roaders with views that range from socially conservative to very liberal. They also seem to relish their independent streak, admitting that they like to do unconventional things and go their own way - ideally, straight to the top.
Rolling the Dice are middle-aged Americans who tend to be unmarried, predominantly white and lower middle-class. Most are Generation Xers, with nearly three-quarters between the ages of 35 and 50. Three-quarters offer a mixed portrait of singles and divorced individuals; less than 10 percent still have children living at home. Their education is below average, with a majority having only gone as far as high school. They tend to earn salaries from mid-level jobs in sales, the service-sector, and blue-collar occupations.
Rolling the Dice are found throughout the nation’s second-tier cities and industrial suburbs, where the houses are compact, inexpensive and old. Nearly two-thirds were built before 1960 and home values hover around $125,000. While they’re widely scattered throughout the U.S., these households have a higher-than-average concentration in the western Pacific and Mountain states. Most contain homeowners who are starting to put down roots in their communities. About half have been at the same address for at least five years.
Rolling the Dice have a lifestyle that’s more typical of younger singles than middle-aged men and women. They’re fans of fast-food joints rather than white-tablecloth restaurants; they also like billiards halls, movie theaters and comedy clubs. They participate in a variety of athletic activities - they play baseball, basketball, football, tennis and racquetball. They also spend their leisure time in their homes reading books and comics, playing video games or listening to music; their wide-ranging tastes include salsa, traditional soul, album-oriented rock and reggae. Challenged by low incomes, they hope for a quick score, showing a fondness for gambling at casinos and buying lottery tickets.
Their shallow pockets also make them a questionable market for shopping, despite the many unmarried residents who want to dress to impress. They tell researchers that they’re not big on shopping and can’t afford designer fashion. Accordingly, they tend to patronize discount stores like Kmart, Family Dollar, Big Lots and Ross Dress for Less. They like consumer electronics and do have solid habits for buying DVRs, DVDs, digital handheld devices and high-definition TVs. Despite their desire to buy snazzy foreign cars, they own few imports or domestic cars more than the average. Nearly half own no car at all and take public transit to get around.
Because media gives them so many inexpensive options, Rolling the Dice enjoy a variety of offerings. Self-described TV addicts, they often keep the TV on all day, switching between game shows, movies, sitcoms and reality programs. Their favorite channels include AMC, BET, VH1 and ESPN Classic. While they don’t subscribe to newspapers, they have eclectic tastes when it comes to magazines, picking up titles like Cosmopolitan, Men’s Fitness, Hot Rod and Metropolitan Home. They also like to keep up with the latest technology, exhibiting average use of the Internet. No matter the media, however, they’re mostly unresponsive to advertising. They’ll notice the ads in buses and on bus shelters, but try to resist most ad messages. “Advertising is a waste of my time,” they state.
Rolling the Dice never experienced higher education, but they have plenty of career ambition and a drive for personal achievement that goes beyond just getting a paycheck. They feel it’s important to be well informed and to learn new things. They’d like to set up their own businesses and advance in their careers, and they don’t mind taking risks to succeed. Ultimately, they’d like to be able to enjoy life and not worry about the future.
These middle-aged people feel connected with those in other countries, and they have an open- mindedness about other cultures. They say that they’re interested in international events and they consider foreign goods, like cars, to be superior to American-made brands. They have a genuine interest in people and feel that they’re citizens of the world. They think of themselves as spiritual, religious and creative. Their mantra: “I like to travel the unbeaten path”.
Politically, Rolling the Dice are independents. They show signs of being both liberal and conservative, and support both progressive and conservative social issues. The highest percentage are affiliated with the Democratic Party, but compared to the general population, they’re nearly two-thirds more likely to describe themselves as Independents. However, few are activists on any issue: they have below-average concerns about crime and pollution. While they don’t mind speaking about an issue, you won’t see them at a rally or demonstration.
With their downscale incomes (under $52,000), Rolling the Dice feel financially insecure. Believing that the stock market is too risky, they rarely invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds. While they own IRAs, their balances tend to be under $50,000. They make use of few banking services other than ATMs, non-interest-bearing checking accounts and bank credit cards. Indeed, this is a solid market for plastic, with households carrying clothing store cards, gas cards and a variety of standard charge cards. Few carry much debt other than the odd car loan. On the other hand, they are an active market for insurance, particularly renter’s insurance, car insurance and disability insurance. If these downscale households own life insurance; however, the coverage is generally under $100,000.
Rolling the Dice see the Internet mostly as a tool for communications and information, rather than for shopping and completing transactions. They have above-average interest in going online to blog and send email, conduct research and look for dates, and play games and watch videos. Social media and dating sites like facebook.com, true.com and mate1.com are all popular in this segment. These households commonly use smartphones to access the Internet. However, with their downscale incomes, many do not have high-speed Internet access at their home, but some compensate by going online through school connections. With a disproportionate number of households saying that the Internet has become their prime source of entertainment, this segment also makes a strong market for music sites like projectplaylist.com and ksl.com.