Young singles starting out, and some starter families, in diverse urban communities
The six segments in Singles and Starters contain downscale Generation Yers with upwardly mobile aspirations. Concentrated in small cities across the country, these households tend to be young (nearly three-quarters are under the age of 35), ethnically-mixed and unattached (half are single while a quarter are single parents). Most are on their own and starting to build independent lives in apartments with other young singles. They’re college-educated, though not necessarily college graduates, and many are toiling away at entry-level positions in service- sector jobs. These self-described workaholics share a desire to move up in status and they realize that every career journey starts with a first step.
Singles and Starters live in satellite cities across the country, including a number of college towns like Madison, Wis., Austin, Texas, Bloomington, Ind., and Tallahassee, Fla. Housing costs are low - the price of a house is a third below the national average - but most residents rent units in low- and high-rise apartment buildings that were built during the last three decades. Many are attracted to the college-town atmosphere of their communities with their commercial landscape of boutiques, pizza joints, cinemas and bookstores. However, these Americans are typically living in their first apartments, and they’re hardly committed to staying in their neighborhoods for any length of time. Three-quarters have lived at the same address for fewer than three years.
In Singles and Starters, education levels are below-average even though the highest concentration of householders, 42 percent, has completed some college. Slightly more than 10 percent work at white-collar jobs in the professions or sciences, while nearly two-thirds work in low-level sales and service-sector jobs in retail, health care and food services. Nearly 20 percent are unemployed - the highest rate in the nation. On average, income in this group is about a third below the general population, but these households often are taking classes to qualify for better jobs.
Singles and Starters have active leisure lives. Because so many live in relatively small apartments, they spend a lot of time outside their units going to bars, nightclubs, movies and billiards halls. Still in the dating scene, these 20-somethings like to stay fit by jogging, in-line skating and playing sports like basketball, baseball and football. When they finally relax at their apartments, they’re likely to read books, listen to a wide range of music and pursue hobbies like painting and playing a music instrument. Many prefer to spend time with friends in activities that take advantage of their city amenities. A high percentage declares, "people say my enthusiasm is contagious".
Singles and Starters are active and aspirational consumers. They like to wear the latest styles and search for designer labels they can afford at mid-market retailers and discount chains like Burlington Coat Factory, Express and Banana Republic. Their interest in the latest styles extends to home design; they fill their condos and apartments with furnishings from Williams- Sonoma and IKEA. This group provides a good marketing opportunity for the makers of electronics, given their tendency to buy new and emerging technology devices like MP3 players, handheld devices and Blu-ray players. Singles and Starters like to be plugged in - literally and figuratively- to the latest trends.
Singles and Starters are too busy for most traditional media. They’re too young to have acquired the habit of reading a daily newspaper, and they don’t often read most magazines, though they will make an exception for music, ethnic and entertainment publications like Rolling Stone, Jet, Cosmopolitan and Entertainment Weekly. On the rare occasions when they switch on their TVs, they typically watch sitcoms, reality programs, movies and game shows; their favorite cable channels include MTV, BET, Comedy Central and FX. They like having a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack to their activities, keeping their radios tuned to stations that play classic rock, contemporary hits and adult contemporary music. Increasingly, they spend their free time online chatting, blogging and checking out social networking sites, to keep up with their real and virtual friends.
Politically, Singles and Starters are liberals who most often align themselves with the Democratic Party. Though they’re willing to march for a cause, they rarely donate money to political or social charities. Their below-average voter registration rates also undercut their impact as a constituency.
The young members of Singles and Starters are relatively active online, using the Internet less for transactions than for communication (joining blogs and chart forums and instant-messaging friends) - and entertainment (downloading games, listening to Internet radio and watching video streaming). Job and car sites are popular, as well as sites offering social media (blackpeoplemeet.com) and sports information (fantasy.nfl.com). These Americans have integrated the Internet into their lifestyles, going online with their cell phones or desktop machines, whether from home, school or when out and about.