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Lifestyles of Rural Americans - US - August 2018

"In some ways the internet has brought urban, suburban, and rural residents closer together, giving Americans across the country access to the same hub of information. Even so, differences remain between these groups. Rural Americans have a different demographic make-up, less access to retail and entertainment, and different habits and routines, which differentiate them from the general population. As Rural Americans account for 20% of the US population, brands may benefit from understanding the nuances that make this segment unique so that they can connect with them in more relevant ways and nurture brand loyalty."

– Dana Macke, Associate Director - Lifestyles & Leisure

This report examines the following issues:

  • Snapshot of the Rural American Consumer
  • Rural Americans today
  • Rural Americans tomorrow

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

          • Snapshot of the Rural American Consumer
            • Figure 1: Demographic snapshot, rural and urban adults, 2015
          • Rural Americans today
            • Rural Americans are people focused, see themselves differently from urban dwellers
              • Figure 2: How Rural Americans see urban and rural residents, May 2018
            • Lack of access drives some retail habits
              • Figure 3: Retail access and retail visits, May 2018
            • Rural Americans tomorrow
              • Social media is a growing influence on Rural Americans
                • Figure 4: Social media usage, by urban and rural, June 2016 and February 2018
              • Younger Rural Americans start their shopping journey online
                • Figure 5: Shopping habits of rural residents, by age, May 2018
              • What it means
              • Understanding Rural Americans – What You Need to Know

                • Rural Americans are an aging demographic
                  • Finances are “okay,” and outlook is moderate
                    • Politics differ, but values are largely the same
                      • Rural Americans are part of the late majority
                        • Lack of access is an issue
                        • What’s Impacting Rural America in 2018

                          • Impact of potential trade war
                            • High costs of economic opportunity
                              • Rising drug use tests local law enforcement
                                • Rural areas face higher rates of suicide
                                • Rural American Demographics

                                  • Rural Americans are more likely to be White, older, and lower-income
                                    • Lower-income, but more affordable cost of living
                                      • Figure 6: Household income and poverty rate, rural and urban adults, 2015
                                    • Lack of jobs compounded by lack of education
                                      • More homogeny, less exposure
                                        • Rural households are older, and perhaps prone to routine
                                          • Demographics are interconnected and hard to parse
                                            • Figure 7: Demographic profile of rural and urban adults, March 2018
                                        • Rural American Finances

                                          • Rural Americans more likely to be struggling
                                            • Figure 8: Perception of financial situation, by area of residence, February 2018
                                          • Rural residents predict financial stability
                                            • Figure 9: Perception of financial outlook, by area of residence, February 2018
                                          • Stable financial situations may not prompt big moves
                                            • Figure 10: Improving financial situation, by area of residence, February 2018
                                          • Rural adults lean on traditional methods of payment
                                            • Figure 11: Methods of payment, March 2018
                                        • Living in Rural America

                                          • Home ownership is the norm in rural America
                                            • Figure 12: Homeownership, by region and rural and urban areas of residence, 2015
                                          • Lack of access can be a challenge
                                              • Figure 13: Living in Rural America, May 2018
                                            • Affordability may not outweigh lack of opportunity
                                              • Figure 14: Living in Rural America – Select items, by household income, May 2018
                                            • Rural residents may not find reason to stay
                                              • Figure 15: Living in Rural America – Select items, by age, May 2018
                                          • Rural American Lifestyles

                                            • Values are more similar than different…
                                              • …but ideologies may conflict
                                                • Figure 16: American values, by area of residence, November 2017
                                              • The social media divide
                                                • Figure 17: Social media usage, by urban and rural, June 2016 and February 2018
                                              • International travel isn’t in the cards
                                                • Figure 18: Travel types, by area of residence, February 2018
                                              • Health perceptions are relatively even across groups
                                                • Figure 19: Health self-perceptions, by area of residence, February 2018
                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                              • Family and friends are the focus
                                                • Priorities align with perceptions
                                                  • Grocery stores are still a staple, even if they’re few and far between
                                                    • One and done shopping
                                                      • Rural Americans stay current on current events
                                                      • Rural Adults’ Top Priorities

                                                        • Family comes first
                                                          • Figure 20: Priorities of rural residents, indexed to all, May 2018
                                                        • Rural residents prioritize health, even if not seen as healthy
                                                          • Financial stability is important, even if it doesn’t result in wealth
                                                            • Figure 21: Perceptions and priorities of rural residents – Top items, May 2018
                                                          • Money is always an issue
                                                            • Figure 22: Priorities of rural residents – Health and finances, by household income, May 2018
                                                          • God and country still take a backseat to family and friends
                                                            • Figure 23: Perceptions and priorities of rural residents – Secondary items, May 2018
                                                          • Rural men carry the flag
                                                            • Figure 24: WeatherTech Super Bowl® Commercial: American Factory, February 2018
                                                            • Figure 25: Priorities of rural residents – Select items, by gender, May 2018
                                                        • Perceptions of Urban, Suburban, and Rural

                                                          • Rural respondents see themselves as focused on people
                                                            • Figure 26: How Rural Americans see urban, suburban, and rural residents, May 2018
                                                          • In their own words: perceptions of farm communities
                                                            • Rural are closer to the norm
                                                              • Figure 27: How Urban Americans see urban, suburban, and rural residents, May 2018
                                                            • In their own words: differences between rural and urban
                                                              • Small town friendliness is more common in older adults
                                                                • Figure 28: Perceptions of rural residents – Select items, by age, May 2018
                                                              • Rural residents may find interest in environmental claims
                                                                • Figure 29: Perceptions of environmentally friendliness and ‘made in the USA’, by area of residence, May 2018
                                                            • The Rural Retail Landscape

                                                              • Grocery and mass merchandisers
                                                                • The grocery store is still the go-to retailer in rural areas
                                                                  • Mass merchandisers also play a large role, particularly Walmart
                                                                    • Figure 30: Retail in rural areas, Rural Americans indexed to all, May 2018
                                                                  • Dollar stores
                                                                    • In good times and in bad
                                                                      • Dollar stores are trying to take more share of the grocery market
                                                                        • Dollar stores serve low- to middle-income rural residents
                                                                          • Figure 31: Retail in rural areas – Select items, by household income, May 2018
                                                                      • The Rural Foodservice Landscape

                                                                        • What’s happening
                                                                          • Foodservice falls behind
                                                                              • Figure 32: Foodservice in rural areas, Rural Americans indexed to all, May 2018
                                                                            • Fast food thrives across regions
                                                                              • Figure 33: Foodservice visitation frequency, by area of residence, May 2018
                                                                            • Urban and suburban areas tout retail and restaurants
                                                                              • Figure 34: Living in Rural America, by area of residence, May 2018
                                                                            • What’s next
                                                                              • Rural America, the future of foodies
                                                                              • Shopping Habits

                                                                                • Online shopping can bridge the gap for rural consumers
                                                                                  • Figure 35: Shopping habits, May 2018
                                                                                • Shopping frequency is a difference between urban and rural
                                                                                  • Figure 36: Shopping habits, by area of residence, May 2018
                                                                                • Younger residents in search of local retail
                                                                                  • Figure 37: Shopping habits of rural residents, by age, May 2018
                                                                                • Buying for quality can be a luxury
                                                                                  • Figure 38: Shopping habits of rural residents, by household income, May 2018
                                                                              • Pop Culture and Social Media

                                                                                • Rural consumers show less interest in pop culture and celebs
                                                                                  • Figure 39: Following pop culture, Rural Americans indexed to all, May 2018
                                                                                • Television is still a key resource
                                                                                  • Figure 40: Importance of television, urban and rural adults, March 2018
                                                                                • Rural men find interest in news coverage
                                                                                  • Figure 41: Following pop culture, Rural Americans by gender, May 2018
                                                                                • Celebrity culture draws the young audience
                                                                                  • Figure 42: Media trends, Rural and Urban Americans by age, May 2018
                                                                                • Link between age and income clear in pop culture preferences
                                                                                  • Figure 43: Following pop culture – News and social media, by household income, May 2018
                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                  • Consumer survey data
                                                                                    • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                          • Terms

                                                                                          Lifestyles of Rural Americans - US - August 2018

                                                                                          US $4,395.00 (Excl.Tax)