Rural Lifestyle Research From NAFB

Chuck Zimmerman

National Association of Farm BroadcastingThere’s some new research out from the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). It’s the “first comprehensive national survey of “rural lifestyle residents,” identifying that a substantial portion of rural households starting at only 3-plus acres raise companion horses and additional livestock, own tractors, and are active buyers of country-living products and services.”

The NAFB study measures this still-emerging consumer market segment at 26 percent of all U.S. households – and 69 million people. From a marketing standpoint, that dwarfs the roughly 2-million farmers and ranchers measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in today’s U.S. producer marketplace.

Respondents among 2,000 households across the 48-state sample expressed strong attachment to radio, as an information and entertainment medium, and to the individual stations they favor. The survey also collected extensive new data about ownership of companion and livestock animals, property energy sources, plans to construct out buildings, rural-based retailers favored, and way-of-life information sources.

Among key findings and insights from The NAFB Rural Lifestyle Report:

  • Residents are not just in “C” and “D” counties as defined by U.S. Census household counts and metropolitan proximity (Nielsen Media), but are also on acreage in outlying “urban circles” within “A” and “B” counties.
  • Stereotypes of low income, small market size, low employment, and limited disposable income – “myths of this market,” says Olson – are unfounded; in fact, income level for many exceeds the U.S. Census median income of $44,684.
  • Consumption of radio programming is strong, with 51-million age 18+ rural lifestyle adults being frequent listeners, and there is a marked appetite for traditional agricultural news (including weather and markets).

The national response sample was derived selectively from residents considered “not in a place” by the U.S. Census, meaning their household is not within an incorporated city, town, or village, or within a Census Data Place (CDP). The project was conducted by Ag Media Research, Sioux Falls, S.D., a member of CASRO (the Council of American Survey Research Organizations). AMR is well-known as a ratings and research provider to agribusiness media and marketers.