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Source: by Sara Steever, President, Paulsen as the article appeared in Forbes magazine

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 46 million people living in rural places. This vast swath of America includes farmers in Iowa, ranchers in Wyoming, retired acreage owners in upstate New York, horse owners in Georgia and hobby farmers in California.

In a study that takes a look at America's rural lifestyler, our agency, along with Ogden Publications, analyzed 720 responses of a broad cross-section of rural property owners across the U.S. This consumer is best described as an acreage owner who doesn't derive significant income from their property. They own land for self-fulfillment, not profit. This excludes large landowners, such as farmers and ranchers.

Most marketers identify rural lifestylers by demographics, such as address, age, income and property size. As an agency focused on targeting rural audiences for brands, we identify customer segments that make up today's rural lifestyler by how they think, what they value and what they want most from their rural experience.

Identifying Five Key Rural Lifestyle Segments
A cluster analysis of demographic characteristics, attitudes, activities, media preferences and purchase intent revealed five key customer segments:

Rebalancing Cost & Capacity In The Government & Public Sector
Young Affluents

Older Inactives

Retired Independents

Middle-Aged Connectors

Young Learners

Each segment shares a love for the land and finds personal fulfillment in rural living, but there are significant differences in why they live in the country and how they shape their world.

Segment 1: Young Affluents

This segment represents younger rural Americans who are more active and affluent. With more income to support larger properties, they have a greater need for new and used equipment.

They live on the largest acreages.

Almost half will buy new equipment in the next year.

They're active in most pursuits on their property.

These are adamant DIY people.

They feel a strong responsibility to care for the environment.

They're least likely to trust a local equipment dealership.

Segment 2: Older Inactives

This audience segment skewed oldest, with 47% of the survey respondents over the age of 65. Because of their age, this group is less active on their property with less income to devote to improvements or maintenance.

Live on average-size properties

Second lowest income

Most likely to own investment property or a second home

More likely to be male

Least likely to DIY or be active on their property

27% will buy new equipment in the next year

Trust and rely on the local equipment dealership

Segment 3: Retired Independents

Retired Independents are the second oldest segment and most likely to be retired. Although similar to Older Inactives in age and income, Retired Independents are more active and identify as DIYers.

Lowest income

Have given up livestock and big farming activities, but show average activity of pursuits on their properties

Take pride in how their home and property look

Trust the local equipment dealership

Segment 4: Middle-Aged Connectors

Middle-Aged Connectors are predominantly female (70%) and many are livestock owners who aren't afraid to ask for advice. They are community-minded with a strong sense of responsibility to the environment.

Middle-aged with average income

Most likely to be worried about maintaining their property as they age

Least likely to buy new equipment in the next year

Most likely to hire others to help with mowing, landscaping, construction and equipment maintenance

Segment 5: Young Learners

These are new acreage owners who are eager to learn about the rural lifestyle. They consider themselves DIYers but have the least experience or familiarity with tractors, RTVs and zero-turn mowers. They are the second most likely to buy new equipment in the near future.

Second youngest group

Average income

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