Middle-aged singles and some couples earning mid-scale incomes supporting active city styles of living
Significant Singles reflect the recent trend of Americans staying single longer and the growing acceptance of individuals remaining unmarried well into middle age or longer. This group contains four segments and consists mainly of singles between the ages of 36 and 65 living in rental apartments in city neighborhoods. Nine out of ten households are childless. While nearly half have never married, another quarter is starting over as divorced or widowed individuals. Members of this group are predominantly white with an above-average presence of Asians. Most enjoy an active singles scene with plenty of nightlife, progressive values and robust leisure lives. Significant Singles are drawn to large and second-tier cities that offer the promise of affordable apartments and a lively atmosphere. Many live in garden-style apartments and duplexes concentrated in the Northeast and West Coast, in cities like Brooklyn, N.Y., San Antonio, Texas, Las Vegas, Nev. and Sacramento, Calif. More than three-quarters are renters. Some are sharing a unit in order to save on housing costs. These singles are not known for staying long: nearly half have lived at the same residence for fewer than three years.
Significant Singles tend to have solid educations - a majority has been to college - but most work at low-level sales and service-sector jobs in health care, education and food services. Even with multiple workers in their households, their total income is below average, providing little extra money for savings and investments. Only half have a car, typically an older subcompact or sedan from Ford or Honda. Forget about options - households here rarely own GPS systems, satellite radios, or DVD players.
Despite their modest incomes, Significant Singles enjoy active, urbane lifestyles. Many of these middle-age men and women long ago gave up on the singles bar scene but they still like to take advantage of their city settings and mingle with other singles at health clubs, adult-education classes and comedy clubs. Many are body-conscious and try to keep fit by pursuing a number of aerobic activities: jogging, swimming, soccer, tennis and in-line skating. When they’re not out and about, they’re happy to stay home and listen to music, read books, paint and entertain friends with their cooking. They confess that they like to eat gourmet cuisine whenever they can.
As consumers, Significant Singles seem to have champagne tastes on beer budgets. They tell researchers that they like to buy new fashion every season in order to make a unique statement with their outfits. However, they also admit that they’re price-sensitive shoppers who go to discount and mid-market retailers like Marshalls, Macy’s, Gap and Nike. They head right to the clearance racks when they walk in the door. Although they like technology and want to buy new gadgets, they usually can’t afford to and rarely own anything other than MP3 players and Blu-ray consoles.
Most media garner only moderate interest among Significant Singles. These households listen to the radio, typically tuning in stations that play modern rock and contemporary hits. They have below-average interest in TV, though they prefer cable channels such as AMC, Oxygen, Style, BET and CNBC. They’re more likely than average to read newspapers, mostly for the entertainment, fashion, movies and classified sections. They declare that magazines are their main source of entertainment, noting they’re especially fond of gaming, computing, music and epicurean titles. On their living room coffee tables, back issues of Self, Shape, Vogue and Vanity Fair form neat stacks next to their laptops, coffee mugs and free weights.
As mobile Americans, Significant Singles are not fertile ground for charities or political parties. Although they describe themselves as liberal Democrats, they are only as likely as the average to be registered to vote. They have strong feelings on many social issues and if they do feel strongly enough about a cause, these Americans are willing to march in a protest.
Significant Singles use digital media often. Although they’re unlikely to access the Internet for e- commerce transactions - few have interest in online shopping, banking and booking travel plans - they do enjoy going to the Web for news and entertainment. They visit Websites that offer auctions, gambling, celebrity news and New Age information. Many use the Internet for utilitarian and relationship-building purposes, helping them locate a date, a used car or purchase movie tickets.