Upper middle-class African-American couples and families living in the expanding suburbs
Soulful Spenders consist of well-off African-American households living in suburban comfort. Typically found outside large cities in the South and Mid-Atlantic states, these households contain a mix of middle-aged couples, families and divorced individuals. Most of the adults are college-educated, hold white-collar jobs and earn solid average incomes above $80,000. With most owning older, modestly priced homes, they have substantial disposable income that allows them to fill their driveways with luxury imports and spend their free time doing active leisure activities.
Soulful Spenders like the nightlife. They enjoy going to restaurants for dinner and head to theaters, comedy clubs and casinos for entertainment. These are health-conscious individuals who engage in regular exercise, though they’re more likely to bike and take aerobics classes than play club sports like tennis or golf. With older children in many homes, this is a strong segment for playing basketball and skateboarding.
As consumers, Soulful Spenders are striving to pursue the good life in a smart way. They like to follow the latest fashion trends and don’t mind paying extra for quality goods. Shoppers in this segment tend to frequent discount department stores like T.J. Maxx and Family Dollar, looking to maximize their spending dollars. However, they remain a receptive audience for advertising - the better to discover the latest styles - and are a strong audience for a wide variety of ad vehicles: radio, TV, magazines and billboards are all effective channels for reaching this segment.
Soulful Spenders are middle-of-the-road media consumers. They rarely pick up newspapers and are selective in the magazines they read. They switch on the TV for sports programs, biographies and movies; in fact, they subscribe to all premium cable channels. These daily commuters also make a strong target for many radio stations, particularly for genres such as jazz, hip hop, soul and gospel.
Socially, Soulful Spenders are traditional in their values. Many are religious, tough on crime and support equal rights and cultural tolerance. Politically, they overwhelmingly side with the Democratic Party. Many are unabashedly upwardly mobile: they describe themselves as workaholics who want to advance in their careers and start their own business. They’re even willing to give up family time to achieve success. They put their faith in the insurance industry and own investment instruments like whole-life insurance and tax-sheltered annuities, but they have very low rates for owning stocks and mutual funds. These somewhat late-adopters talk of increasing their Internet services in the next year, in an effort to get ahead of the technology and pop culture curve.
Soulful Spenders reflect the rise of America’s black professional class living in the nation’s suburbs. A mix of couples, divorced individuals and families with teenage children, virtually all the households contain African Americans - ten times the national average. Most households are characterized by high educational achievement and well-paying jobs. More than 40 percent contain someone with a bachelor’s or graduate degree and almost as many contain white-collar workers in professional and technical positions. These are established households where nearly two-thirds of household heads are between the ages of 46 and 65.
Soulful Spenders live in comfortable suburbs outside the nation’s big cities. They’re found in suburban enclaves like Capitol Heights, Md., outside of Washington, D.C., Country Club Hills, Ill., south of Chicago, and Decatur, Ga., near Atlanta. Some households settled in these communities as part of the flight leaving the big cities for the promise of the suburbs over the last two decades. However, many of their single-family homes are older brick structures that today have below-average values of $175,000. Many of the households are now aging in place, with a majority having lived at the same address for more than a decade.
They may have grown up in working-class households, but Soulful Spenders are enjoying their prosperity. They like nightlife and go to theaters, comedy clubs, dance performances and casinos frequently. When they go out for dinner and a movie, they patronize casual dining restaurants such as Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday and Golden Corral as well as The Cheesecake Factory and TGI Friday's and also frequent fast-food chains. They like watching dramas and horror films. They tend to take short vacations, typically to visit relatives throughout the South.
Soulful Spenders are health-conscious and a majority exercise regularly. They like to bike and do aerobics, and their older children enjoy football, basketball and skateboarding. Unlike other suburban segments, they are not into playing golf or tennis; however, they do show interest in watching these types of sports.
Soulful Spenders are typically car-dependent, and many households have multiple vehicles. They like to buy cars based on looks and prestige, and they often own luxury sedans, full-sized vans and premium SUVs, as well as economy subcompacts for the new drivers in their household. These householders are more likely to buy used than new cars, but they prefer the cachet of imports like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Infiniti.
Soulful Spenders like to buy quality goods and would even pay extra for the upscale brands. However, they usually patronize discount retailers like Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Family Dollar. They like to shop and are often the first among their friends to visit new stores, but they’re also practical and note that coupons will draw them into new stores they wouldn’t normally visit.
Soulful Spenders make a mixed media audience. They are average readers of newspapers and above-average readers of sports, health and gourmet magazines. Not surprisingly, they make a strong audience for minority-targeted media, including Jet, Ebony and BET. Their TV viewing patterns also reflect an educated, upscale sensibility: their favorite cable channels include Bravo, Discovery Health, HBO, Cinemax, MSNBC and Style. They are never far from a radio, especially one that’s tuned to jazz, rhythm and blues, hip hop, religious, soul and gospel.
With a keen interest in following trends, Soulful Spenders make a receptive audience for ads, saying that they help them learn about new products. They find TV commercials interesting, like to read magazine ads and pay attention to billboards, commercials before movies and placards in cinema lobbies. These suburban commuters also notice the ads in trains and taxis. Ads online are beginning to get their attention, too.
Soulful Spenders have strong family ties. But these self-described workaholics still burn with career ambition. While they’re doing well at work, they still want to get to the top of their career and perhaps even start their own business. However, they also value stability and observe that even a boring job is better than no job at all.
Despite pockets of conservatism, members of Soulful Spenders are politically left-of-center, tolerant of other cultures and strong supporters of equality for all. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of 6 to 1. These politically active Americans say that, if they feel strongly about an issue, they’ll participate in a protest. On social issues, however, they have traditional views.
As consumers, Soulful Spenders express a strong need for status recognition. They like novelty and originality, and they’re more than twice as likely as the general population to say they like to make a unique fashion statement with the clothes they buy. They enjoy shopping, but they also have a practical streak and often pick up bargains at discount department stores.
Most households in Soulful Spenders earn over $80,000 a year, but for many families, that requires multiple household members to be working. Their antipathy towards Wall Street and traditional banks shows in their reluctance to own stocks, mutual funds and money market instruments, but they do own 401(k)s and savings bonds. They’re more comfortable with insurance products and investment vehicles like whole-life insurance and tax-sheltered annuities, which they acquire at above-average levels. Health-conscious, they also buy health, dental and vision insurance policies.
Many Soulful Spenders use credit instruments to maintain their comfortable lifestyles. They carry prestige credit cards, often maintaining a revolving balance. They take out home improvement loans, mortgages and auto loans for their multiple cars. They like to shop for the best deal, but they say they’ll pay any price for good financial advice.
While Internet use in Soulful Spenders is below the national average, these households go online to shop, bank, listen to Internet radio stations and participate in auctions. With their above-average tendency to telecommute, they own a number of business-oriented peripherals and software for their home computers. About one in six use an Internet phone and an above- average number use DSL.
With their teenage children, this is a strong target for using web applications like eDonkey, Gnutella, and Napster. They also visit sites focused on golf and tennis, maps and transport, and sports, fitness, community organizations and pharmacies. Although these households surf few Websites at high rates, they admit that they’re spending more time online to shop and get information - a trend that should increase in the future. Many say they plan to upgrade their Internet services over the next year.