Working-class, middle-aged couples and singles living in rural homes
Work Hard, Pray Hard live in small, isolated communities that are home to no more than a few thousand inhabitants spread across a rural landscape. Many towns are so small that they typically consist of little more than a church, campground and general store that doubles as a cafe. These households tend to contain white, middle-aged couples and singles living in mostly compact houses and mobile homes. With their modest educations - nearly three-quarters haven’t gone beyond high school - most work at blue-collar and sales jobs. Even though a small percentage works at farming, that number is four times the national average. The pay is low, but expenses are also modest, and these folks have crafted unpretentious lifestyles in their remote settings.
Work Hard, Pray Hard have old-fashioned agrarian lifestyles. Many enjoy a close relationship with nature, and their favorite leisure activities include fishing, hiking, hunting and camping. Although they rarely travel to big cities for culture and nightlife, they do enjoy going to country music concerts, antique shows and NASCAR races. In their communities, they like to play bingo at church and cards at home. These folks pursue a number of home-based hobbies - from cooking and gardening to painting and woodworking. Many play musical instruments; they’ll stroke a fiddle or pick out the bluegrass and gospel music that’s popular in the segment.
As consumers, Work Hard, Pray Hard like to shop at local stores where they can find their favorite brands. However, many are willing to travel long distances to discount department stores where they can find a bargain and more fashionable choices. They’re a strong market for off- price designer labels and sports equipment to support their outdoor excursions. These are the Americans who display their guns in stylish cabinets and stow their fishing tackle in the beds of their large trucks. Although they’re utilitarian in their approach to cars - they need to get from point A to point B over rugged roads - they still are impressed by the latest options. While they typically buy used cars and trucks made in America, some admit that there is status in driving a foreign luxury car.
When it comes to media, these households are also loyal to traditional channels. Without theaters or cinemas nearby, they turn on the TV for movies, dramas and sitcoms. Music is an important part of their life, and they tune in to radio on their typically long drives - even for routine chores - to listen to country, modern rock and gospel music. It’s tough to find a newspaper that’s delivered to their door each day, so they prefer to get their print media in the form of special- interest magazines like Outdoor Life, Self and Harper’s Bazaar. They’re much less likely to enjoy digital media. Few carry cell phones or PDAs, and many lack high-speed modems to enjoy a lively Internet experience. They do go online to send messages or look up a business at a Yellow Pages site, but their computers typically sit idle unless a teenager is present for gaming or listening to Internet radio. While the Internet has made few inroads with their segment, many households maintain that they plan to add to their services in the next year.
Despite the isolation of rural living, many Work Hard, Pray Hard describe themselves as traditionalists who want to preserve their way of life. They tend to be religious and socially conservative. That makes them moderate Democrats and Independents when it comes to politics. They care about their families and their neighbors, and they’re willing to volunteer for a good cause in the community. Many resist the heavy hand of government, even when the issue is preserving the environment. These self-reliant Americans want to take care of their own and move up the ladder through hard work - even if it means giving up family time to get ahead.
Predominantly white, childless and downscale, nearly half the households in Work Hard, Pray Hard contain an adult who never finished high school. With eight of ten between 35 and 50 years old, nearly half of these middle-aged householders are already grandparents. Blue-collar work - typically in construction, health care or manufacturing - represents more than half of members’ occupations. Once a mostly agrarian workforce, most farm jobs have disappeared; however, the segment’s small percentage of remaining farm workers is still four times the national average.
Typically found scattered across the South, Work Hard, Pray Hard is one of the most isolated of all segments: 63 percent of households are classified rural, and the majority of segment counties contain less than 20,000 people. With their downscale incomes, members manage to own modest houses - bungalows, clapboard homes and double-wide trailers - valued at roughly $100,000. Some 14 percent live in a mobile home - a rate five times the national average. However, the settings for their homes - quiet fields, rolling hills and cooling pine forests - are often priceless, and one in ten households live on more than two acres.
In their small towns and farm hamlets, Work Hard, Pray Hard pursue traditional agrarian lifestyles. The men hunt and fish, the women cook and garden and everyone likes to spend their free time outdoors camping, swimming and boating. Their social lives revolve around their home and church, and they enjoy playing bingo and card games with friends. There’s a creative streak in this segment, with painting, drawing and playing a musical instrument all popular pursuits. For a splurge, they’ll go to a country music concert, NASCAR race or antique show.
In the marketplace, Work Hard, Pray Hard are price-sensitive shoppers, always on the hunt for a sale or designer label on a clearance rack. They tend to be brand-loyal, looking for products that have stood the test of time, but also styles that will make a fashion statement. They normally shop at nearby stores but when they go to national chains, they typically end up at discount department stores like Walmart, Kmart, Family Dollar and Dollar General. Although they are a weak market for electronic devices, they make up for that with their passion for sports equipment like fishing rods, hunting rifles and camping gear. As for cars, these drivers look for vehicles that can handle dirt and gravel roads; for this segment, a sturdy used car or truck is like a reliable hunting dog - just because it’s a little old or scratched up doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it.
They may live in remote communities, but Work Hard, Pray Hard take pride in being well- informed. They make a strong audience for traditional media, with many enjoying TV, radio and magazines. Declaring TV as their main source of entertainment, they like to watch the range of programming - sitcoms, movies, dramas and car races - on cable networks like CMT, Lifetime, Hallmark, Speed and Comedy Central. They’re fans of radio and tune in to country, modern rock and golden oldies stations. Although they rarely subscribe to a local newspaper, many rely on magazines to keep up with their interests and hobbies. Among their favorite publications are Allure, Self, Field & Stream and Star.
Work Hard, Pray Hard live a simple country life, and they exhibit traditional values. They believe in the primacy of the family and want to provide their children with the things they couldn’t have when they were growing up. They prefer to spend a quiet evening at home with their family rather than go out. They also like to cultivate a circle of close friends. In their small towns, these households forge strong connections revolving around their community and church. Volunteering for a good cause is a natural instinct.
These Americans tend to be wary of outsiders and conservative in their outlook. They’re spiritual people who regularly attend religious services. Strong on family values, they also support conservative social issues. With their old-fashioned values, they also believe that it’s important for a company to act ethically. However, they’re more laid-back on environmental issues and are uninterested in recycling.
While home may be where their heart is, members of Work Hard, Pray Hard also have a strong need to find fulfilment through work. They’re interested in setting up their own businesses, and they’re willing to give up time with their family to advance in their careers. Although they regard their current blue-collar work as just a paycheck, they say that they’d like it to be more meaningful. They like to try new things, and their friends describe them as adventurous.
With their low incomes, Work Hard, Pray Hard don’t have a lot of accumulated savings. On the other hand, their cost of living is low and these risk-averse individuals don’t have a lot of debts, either; only a small number carry auto or low-value personal loans. Because they have little faith that they can prosper from the stock market, they have little to no investments other than whole- life insurance, which they carry more than the average. Believing it’s important to be well- insured, they carry health and life insurance, albeit with relatively modest coverage amounts. They also recognize that they tend to spend money without thinking, so many prefer using cash to credit or debit cards. Although they tell researchers they consider themselves good at managing money, they often feel financially insecure.
The Internet has barely changed the lives of Work Hard, Pray Hard. Reflecting the difficulty of getting high-speed Internet access in these area - nearly a third have dial-up modems - these households are among the least Internet-active at home and at work. They’re much less likely than average to go online for banking, shopping and making travel plans. If they use the Internet at all, it’s for shopping for a car, looking up businesses or getting information on favorite topics like pets, wrestling, arts or mobile phones. If there are children or teenagers in the house, they’ll also go online to play games or research homework projects. Together, the residents of these households will go online to myspace.com, runescape.com, allrecipes.com and wwe.com. However, as many of these households are only now becoming familiar with the Internet, they are still discovering new Websites.