The American Consumer: The Latest Demographic Details
Marketing is a numbers game, from statistics to logistics, and demographics to traffic. But with data delivered at a constant rate, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest rundowns. Luckily, the American Consumers Newsletter by New Strategist Press has been collecting the latest trend metrics and empirical evaluations on the lifestyles of Americans today. MediaPost.com featured the findings to help marketers calculate and create their segmentation strategies.
Population Projections and Birth Rates
According to the American Demographics Strategist Press report from June 2014, the U.S. population changed little last year and remained at 8% below the all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007. Yet closer analysis of the report revealed that the fertility rate fell to a new all-time low of 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, which is a whopping 9% below the fertility rate in 2007. In addition, the first-birth rate in 2013 plummeted to an all-time low, reflecting the declining rate of women entering motherhood in every age group under 30. This indicates that young women are hesitant to have children and that the overall number of births only remained steady because older women are racing to have kids before it’s too late.
Interestingly, Hispanic births in 2013 were almost 20% below the Census Bureau’s projections, while the non-Hispanic white birth rate was higher than projected. This indicates that the nation is not becoming the minority-majority country as quickly as expected. Overall, non-Hispanic whites continued to comprise the majority of births in 2013, accounting for 54% of births compared to 23% from Hispanics.
The Census Bureau reported that the number of families with preschoolers has decreased by more than one million since it peaked in 2007. This “birth dearth” is causing the lower number of toddlers today.
Divorce Rate Debate
And now the divorce rate is up for debate after the “Breaking Up Is Hard to Count” report by researchers Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles blamed the supposed high divorce rate on the failure of the statistical system used, instead of the failure of marriages. The report showed that National Center for Health Statistics stopped collecting data on marriage and divorce in the 1990s. This left little data to rely on except the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which had a very high non-response rate.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers closely analyzed the 2008 American Community Survey that asked respondents whether they had been married or divorced in the past year, as well as the number of times they had ever been married. After analyzing this data, the researchers discovered the overlooked phenomenon that there had been a 40% increase in the age-standardized divorce rate between 1980 and 2008. After a small decrease in 2009, the rate rose again and reached its peak in 2011.
But in recent years, the researchers found that divorce has been decreasing among adults under age 35. This is primarily because fewer are getting married, but also because the couples who do marry are extremely compatible. The researchers also saw that nearly half of adults over age 35 have experienced a divorce or separation by their late fifties. They attributed this rise in marital instability to the Baby Boom generation and said that their pattern remained for them today.
Growth in the Cities
Going on to growth, it seems that U.S. cities are growing at almost twice the rate of smaller towns. Between 2010 and 2013, the Census Bureau reported a 3.3% rise in the population of the nation’s 743 largest cities, compared to only 1.8% for the rest of the country.
Switching to what’s driving the nation’s auto actions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average age of the country’s cars, vans, and SUVs was 11.3 years in 2012, which was slightly older than the average age of 10.2 years in 2007. While that age difference was minor, the age distribution of vehicles in American households was very different. Only 15% of cars were fewer than five years old in 2012, which was down from 23% in 2007. And more than half of cars were at least 11 years old in 2012, which was up from 44% between 2000 and 2007.
Housing Preferences Shift
Back on the home front, the Census Bureau reported that fewer new single-family homes were being completed, but the ones arriving on the market were larger than ever. One-third of these homes had three or more bathrooms, while 44% of them had four or more bedrooms, and 64% had a two-car garage. And the total number of new single-family home completions in 2013 was a full one-third higher than the all-time low hit in 2011.
Rental housing has also been on the rise, with more than 40 million renters reported in 2013. But while both the number of apartments coming to market and the average age of renters has increased, these new apartments have not been built to meet the needs of today’s average 40-year-old renter. Only 55% of the apartments in new multifamily buildings had two or more bedrooms, which is down from 73% in 2006. And the number of new apartments with two or more bathrooms has also declined to 47% from a high of 62% in 2006.
The nation looks very different today than it did a few years ago. As a result, marketers must stay on top of the latest numbers to ensure that they know how to reach modern-day Americans.
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