Upscale, middle-aged couples with school-aged children living active family lifestyles in outlying suburbs
Sports Utility Families consist of upscale families living in relatively new subdivisions on the fringe of the metro sprawl. Most of the adults are white, middle-aged and often have older children in their teens. A high proportion of households are multi-generational, with adult children and aging seniors sharing the same address with these Gen X parents. The segment is characterized by above-average educations and incomes in the low six figures from a mix of white-collar, blue-collar and service-sector jobs.
Once considered the "boonies", these communities were typically developed in what was rolling farmland surrounding metro areas. Many adults were originally attracted to the areas more than a decade ago for the open spaces and the affordability of the housing - not the prestige of the neighborhoods. However, as their kids have grown up, the adults have aged in place and built up equity in houses that are now considered within reasonable commuting distance of city jobs as well as bucolic parks. In these stable areas, families have deep roots and belong to the PTA, church groups and unions.
With both parents in the workforce, Sports Utility Families have busy, child-centered lifestyles. They typically spend a lot of time in their cars - large SUVs and full-sized trucks are popular - ferrying their children to after-school activities and heading off for weekend excursions to museums, zoos and aquariums. These are sports-crazy families who join leagues to play softball, basketball and football; they’re also close enough to lakes and parkland where they can fish, hunt and boat. These households still travel as a family, which means driving trips to beaches, campgrounds and resorts near theme parks. When parents need a date night, they’ll head to a casual dining restaurant, movie or pro sports event.
These shoppers patronize mid-market and discount retailers, but they head to kid-oriented specialty stores for toys, games and sporting equipment. Most have unpretentious tastes and care more about long-lasting clothes than designer labels. In these hectic households, most parents are not too interested in self-improvement and are fine with serving their children convenient processed food and sweets. However, they do think it's important to gather for dinner every night.
Many in Sports Utility Families don’t have a lot of time to sit still for most media. They’ll listen to music - ‘80s pop, country and hot adult contemporary radio stations are popular - and watch the occasional TV show. However, few read any magazines, and newspapers are skimmed mostly for sports scores. They go on the Internet to look for a job, bank or listen to an Internet radio station. Many telecommute and stock their home offices with scanners, webcams and spreadsheet software. Among their most bookmarked Websites are Facebook and CareerBuilder; iTunes is a frequently-used application.
Sports Utility Families work hard and have conservative family values. Politically, they’re overwhelmingly Republican. Personally, they’re laid-back about the need for status recognition. They’re more interested in their work than the paycheck, though they worry about their financial future. Already middle-aged, they have yet to amass a large nest egg for retirement. These conservative investors are more comfortable investing in savings bonds than individual stocks. They live on debit and credit cards to make ends meet, and they don’t always pay off their balances each month.
Sports Utility Families are a collection of mostly middle-aged families with school-aged children living in suburban homes. Nearly nine out of ten household heads are between 36 and 50 years old. Many have large families with more than two children, and a high percentage have young adults and older seniors living under the same roof. These predominantly white, multi- generational households report above-average educations, a majority of them containing at least someone who has a college degree. The adults here aren’t at the peak of their careers, and they work at a mix of white-collar, blue-collar and service-sector jobs - everything from mining and manufacturing to business and education. Nearly three-quarters of households contain multiple earners to support their upscale lifestyles.
Sports Utility Families households tend to live in affordable neighborhoods in the suburbs of cities of varying sizes scattered around the country, some of which are in the Midwest. Nearly all of the household heads own single-family homes in relatively new subdivisions, most built since 1990s, which cater to young families in search of reasonably-priced housing. Their homes are starting to show their age, as the parents have raised children of various ages. House values are close to the national average at about $235,000. With their older children and young adults living within the same address, the householders have aged in place, and there’s relatively little churn in their neighborhoods. Nearly half the households have lived at the same address for more than a decade.
In their comfortable suburban subdivisions, Sports Utility Families pursue kid-centered lifestyles. Families here like to spend their leisure time at home playing games, listening to music and watching TV. On a weekend afternoon, they may splurge by taking the kids to a museum, aquarium, zoo, theme park or nearby beach or lake for swimming. For a night out, Sports Utility Families parents like to go out to a movie, comedy club, pro sports event or concert featuring a well-known pop or rock group. These families extend their disposable income to travel frequently to domestic destinations, staying at mid-scale hotels, campgrounds and all-inclusive resorts; occasionally, vacations will include cruises to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. When they go out to eat, they pile into SUVs and CUVs from Ford and Nissan and head to casual dining restaurants such as Olive Garden, Chili’s, TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s.
Sports Utility Families are big participants of team sports such as baseball, basketball and football. They also exercise at home or public athletic facilities. With their suburban communities not too far from parks, these families like outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, hunting, fishing and camping. They’re also fans of a variety of water sports such as water-skiing, jet- skiing, canoeing and power boating.
As shoppers, they have mid-scale consumer tastes. They’re heavy consumers of toys, board games, dolls and sports equipment; they buy everything from golf balls and tennis racquets to backpacks and hunting clothes at twice the national average. They also frequent family mid- market retailers like Kohl’s, Sam’s Club, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Hobby Lobby. With kids in school and home offices to equip, they’re a strong market for office supply stores, but they also like to use mail order to buy books, toys, computer products and sporting goods.
With their mix of teens and older children, these busy families have only average media consumption. However, they do like watching TV, especially auto races, pro sports, animation shows like “Family Guy" and reality shows like “American Idol” and “The Biggest Loser”. They’ll tune in radio stations playing modern rock, country and contemporary Christian music. They’ve gotten out of the habit of reading magazines, but they pick up newspapers as often as the average to read the sports and classified sections. They’d just prefer to avoid most advertisements, especially TV commercials. As they say, "advertising is a waste of my time".
Sports Utility Families believe that family takes precedence over other priorities. They prefer to spend time at home and like to gather the family together for dinner. These folks describe themselves as traditionalists who, despite a high percentage of women in the workforce, support the notion that a woman’s place is in the home. Politically, they’re conservative, and much more likely than the general population to support conservative social causes. Not surprisingly, Republicans in this segment outnumber Democrats by more than 3 to 1.
Unlike other upscale Americans, Sports Utility Families are not obsessed with money or status. They think it’s important to be attractive but they don’t place a high priority on looking young or acquiring products to gain the approval of others. Although they earn upscale incomes, they do not feel financially secure; they worry about the future and wish money was less important in their lives. Members of this segment say they work because they like the satisfaction - not just the paycheck - that it gives them.
As consumers, Sports Utility Families are mostly unpretentious in their tastes. They’re not interested in designer labels or the latest fashions. They prefer products - whether they’re clothes or cars - that will last a long time. They say they’re uncomfortable with taking risks or doing unconventional things. In the marketplace, that translates to being late adopters of electronics and laissez-faire about health. They do not really try to eat a balanced diet.
Most Sports Utility Families are upscale - the average income is in the low six figures - thanks to multiple earners. But these Gen X parents are only now beginning to think about retirement and have yet to accumulate high balances in their 401(k)s and IRAs. They’re also relatively conservative as investors, more likely to acquire mutual funds and savings bonds than individual securities.
With their large families, they score near the top for borrowing and have high rates for home mortgages, cars loans and home equity loans. They also rely on debit and credit cards for daily expenses, carrying gasoline station and clothing store cards for those routine purchases and paying them off at average rates. Because they’ve still got kids in the nest, they’re also a prime market for term life insurance, which they tend to buy from agents. For convenience, they do a lot of their banking online.
Sports Utility Families are above-average users of the Internet. They go online for a wide range of uses, whether it’s hunting for a better job, planning a trip, auctioning off an old chair or listening to an Internet-only radio station. They’re frequent online shoppers who patronize Websites that feature classified ads for cars, fitness equipment, house and garden supplies and toys. While the younger generation in the house enjoys going to children’s lifestyle sites, the adults head to sports sites dedicated to fishing and fantasy leagues.
Telecommuting is popular; workers outfit their computers at home with accounting and desktop publishing software, DVD burners, scanners, laser printers and webcams. However, it’s not all work and no play; they also buy gaming software and video controllers at high rates and use applications like iTunes and Rhapsody. Reflecting the significant number of young adults still living at home, Sports Utility Families visit such Websites as facebook.com, simplyhired.com, datehookup.com and gamespot.com.