Country fans have generally been thought to be rural, less educated, less technically savvy and a lower earning group of people than the general public. But new research from MRI and independent research by the CMA indicates that the new demographic for country music fans puts them on average or above with most Americans, according to CMA market research director Greg Fuson.
"The country consumer and who they are may not be who you think they are," Fuson told attendees at the Billboard Country Music Summit in Nashville. "The data from MRI surveyed 25,000 U.S. residents and was compiled into a 112-page document. The CMA did proprietary research, including interviewing people who attend our annual Music Fest in Nashville, where we talked to 3,600 people last year."
Statistics for the average country fan show that they are 45 years old with an income of $75,392. Seventy-five percent of country fans own a home (valued at $228,586), which is higher than the national average. Thirty-two percent are parents with 2.3 children and their net worth is $316,337, which is just under the national average.
The survey shows that 42 percent of the population is a country music fan, which breaks down to 95 million country music fans in the United States, a number that Fuson said gives the country music community the opportunity to open a lot of doors with sponsorships and other partnerships.
A further breakdown shows that 48 percent of those who like country music are male and 52 percent are female. The age brackets are interesting, as 13 percent are in the 18-24 age range; 17 percent, 25-34; 18 percent, 35-44; 20 percent, 45-54; and 16 percent each in the 44-64 and 65-plus. Twenty-six percent are singles who have never married.
As for education, 24 percent have college degrees and 30 percent have some college. Post graduates total eight percent, and 34 percent are high school grads.
One in two people with an income of $100,000-plus are country fans and one in three people who have professional or managerial jobs are country fans. One in four of the people who live in the top five DMA's are country fans. Again, Fuson pointed out that this opens a lot of doors because there is a whole new market where country fans live.
"Country music fans are also passionate about their family," Fuson said. "We found that 90 percent spend time with their family, and 81 percent have dinner with them every night compared to a national average of 43 percent. Seventy-nine percent of the country fans wish they had more time to spend with their families."
The surveys also found that country fans are more likely than the U.S. population to go dancing, go out on the town with friends, entertain at home and dine out. In fact, Fuson said, country fans spent $16 billion dining out with friends and family last year.
Country fans are also more tech-savvy than had been previously thought. Two in four of the people buying new technology are country fans, while four in 10 people who are asked for advice on technology are country fans. Seventy-six percent of Music Fest attendees last year were engaged in some kind of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, with 55 percent engaging with Facebook daily. That is up 30 percent from 2008. Another 23 percent are active on Twitter, up 40 percent from 2009.
The CMA introduced a CMA Music Fest app two weeks ago, and in that time period has had 11,336 unique visitors, 9,500 from iPhones and the rest from Android.
When it comes to finances, 43 percent of active investors say they are country music fans, who are more likely to use a financial planner to help with their future plans. One in four people who say they are country music fans like to take risks for a chance at a high return.
In the automotive realm, not so many fans drive pickup trucks down back roads anymore, with 41 percent saying they research and compare motor vehicles before making a purchase. Many of those have done that research online. Forty-three percent of people who purchased a recent vehicle that cost more than $30,000 were country music fans. Country fans also like accessories, with the most popular being ONSTAR, GPS, Bluetooth or other hand free devices -- and heated/cooled seats.
In the telecommunication world, country fans spend $7.6 million on cell phone service for homes that have 2.3 cell phones. One in four people who have cell phones with no landlines are country music fans. The country music fan is more likely to download a ringtone and a song, use texting to vote in a contest, watch a video clip and visit a website for entertainment information.
In the realm of vacations, country music fans spent $46 billion on domestic travel last year; another 18 percent took an international trip. Vacations included visits to top-rated golf resorts, snow skiing, and health spas and retreats.
"To recap, the country music fan looks like the average U.S. population, but the best thing to know is they come in all ages, income brackets and markets," Fuson said. "We need to engage them all. The country music fan has spending power; we have a vast opportunity to reach them in so many ways that fit into their lifestyle."