Get to Know
From small cities and towns to rural communities, small-market consumers comprise over 20% of the U.S. population today. By 2025, these same markets are projected to represent over a quarter of all U.S. households and hold a disproportionate share of spending power across a broad range of retail categories.3
- A study conducted by McKinsey & Company in collaboration with Walmart identified 5 different types of rural communities, describing Rural America as “a mosaic of different landscapes, people, and economic realities.”5 Over the past 10 years, the populations of all archetypes except for Distressed Americana have grown.
The Contiguous United States is a Complex Mosaic of Local Economies, with Five Distinct Rural Consumers
After decades of relying on cultivating customer growth in major metropolitan markets, record-high input costs including labor, supplies and real estate, are compelling brands to pivot toward the economies of small-market strategies to fuel their future.
While there is abundant data in these geographies to support healthy expansion initiatives across a growing range of verticals, savvy marketers are discovering that understanding the differences in rural and urban consumer patterns, behaviors, and media consumption is tantamount to their success.
People are rethinking how and where they work, and how and where they live.5
Why is the Rural Consumer Important to You?
Migration patterns are creating new opportunities for growth
- By 2020, when the percentage of Americans working from home doubled during the pandemic, it was clear that the growing appeal of small-town lifestyle was contributing to urban population declines and real household growth across a host of rural cities and towns.
- According to a 2020 Gallup survey, more Americans desire to live in a small town or rural community. Forty-eight percent of responders indicated living in a rural area or small town would be ideal, an increase of 9% over the previous survey in 20181.
Even before the pandemic, the 2016 post-election trend of seeking communities of shared values was well under way. Americans were already embracing the new concept of working remotely, and the opportunity to live and work in locations more closely aligned with lifestyle preferences and values was cited as a key factor in urban-rural migration patterns.
The Trend Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
More than 70% of consumers who plan to buy a house in the next year indicated they plan to purchase a home in the suburbs or a rural community, according to an October 2022 Prosper Insights & Analytics survey2.
What’s Important to
The first step in engaging Rural Consumers is to acknowledge that their needs are not typically the same as general-market consumers, and the divide is felt more distinctly in rural areas, where consumers feel more separated and less understood, particularly by marketers.
The rural value system is primarily built on relationships and community. The way people relate to each other in rural communities is more personal, emotional, direct, and socially supportive, while urban social interactions are more impersonal and indirect.
- Rural residents empower themselves to be independent and appreciate the hard work that goes into what they make and buy.
- Individualism is important to rural consumers to survive in the larger economic & social environments.
- Rural residents celebrate community and hometown traditions, and they trust local communities more than mass media.7
Mspark Delivers Value to the Rural Consumers Most Likely to Become
Your Best Customers
If this audience is important to your business, we can help you reach them. Mspark specializes in driving brand growth and customer engagement strategies for national and local advertisers in these important markets.Reach Rural Consumers
Sources: Gallup 20201, Prosper Insights & Analytics2, U.S. Census Bureau3, America at work: A national mosaic and roadmap for tomorrow, Walmart, February 20194, U.S. Census Bureau5, The Washington Post6, TSW Rural7