S68: Small Town Sophisticates

Sophisticated, down-scale singles and couples living in modest, exurban small towns

Type of Thrifty Habits consisting of 1.24% of households and 0.79% of population

Who We Are

  • Aged 51-65
  • Household income less than $15,000
  • 1 person household
  • Renter
  • Low level of household technology

Key Features

  • Modest spenders
  • Rural towns
  • Single, empty-nesters
  • Modest educations
  • Frozen food fans
  • Basic cell phones


Small Town Sophisticates are older, unmarried empty- nesters in second-tier cities and exurban towns. Their lifestyle is pure small-town America. Most residents are over 50 years old and include a mix of single, divorced and widowed individuals living in downscale neighborhoods. Less than 10 percent have a college degree, and the majority work in service-sector and blue-collar jobs. Nearly 15 percent are already retired.

Their neighborhoods, often found in cities and towns that have seen better days, are quietly aging. The housing stock is a mix of bungalows, cottages and ranch houses typically built in the first half of the 20th century. Most houses are small and their lots modest. Home values are only a third of the national average and yards are rarely landscaped. In these areas, status is a new truck out front.

Among Small Town Sophisticates, lifestyles tend to be typical of those living in modest small towns—fishing followed by a game of cards with friends. Many can afford to travel, though it’s often by train to see children and grandchildren in cities across the US. Collecting coins and porcelain figurines are among their favorite hobbies; they also enjoy going to an antiques show or flea markets on the weekends.

In their communities far from downtown stores, Small Town Sophisticates care more about convenience than style. They tend to dress conservatively, always on the lookout for bargains at discount stores like Walmart and Dollar General. They are not interested in electronic gadgets, and it would be very unusual to see Small Town Sophisticates carrying iPads or iPhones.

Instead, these older folks gather around the TV at night to watch sitcoms, early evening shows and dramas. Some have old fashioned media habits that see them leafing through a newspaper—particularly the classifieds—or an outdoor magazine. Slowly, these older households are getting into the internet. Initially they just sought out listings but, increasingly, they’re visiting sites for social networking and following their favorite baseball team or racing driver. In this segment, NASCAR rules as the favorite spectator sport.

By heritage and inclination, Small Town Sophisticates are conservative in their views. Many describe themselves as moderate Democrats. Although many have only lived at the same address for five years, they’re still active in their communities.