the new american middle
what, where, and who is the new american middle?
Unlike older conceptions of “middle America” that equated socio-economic class to places like the Midwest or “the Heartland,” this new audience isn’t solely defined by income or geography, or by age, race, or gender. They probably aren’t “bi-coastal,” but some of them live on the coasts. They might work in New York City or Los Angeles or Chicago, but they probably live somewhere else, and probably grew up somewhere else, in a small town or a medium-sized city or a big suburb or all the places in between. They aren’t interested in haute couture, and their purchases aren’t totally driven by what’s on sale. They aren’t obsessed by the latest fads, but they are deeply proud of their personal sense of style.
If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because it describes the many of the 75% of American consumers who don’t live in the country’s five largest metropolitan areas. This group of consumers represents a huge chunk of most brands’ business, and yet marketers spend so much time and money focused on the relatively tiny audiences at either end of the spectrum: consumers who are primarily motivated by price and consumers who are primarily motivated by status.
At BMDG, we believe this is an inefficient and outdated way of doing business. In an era when shrinking marketing budgets must be spread across so many different platforms and channels, you should focus your marketing dollars on the huge group of consumers in the middle of the spectrum, what we call the New American Middle.
what does the new american middle want?
Through our own research, and our work with brands such as Arhaus, Pyrex, Russell Athletic, Sherwin-Williams, Vera Bradley, and many others that market to the New American Middle, we’ve discovered some essential truths about this large and valuable audience.
First of all, they are driven by values. These sets of values vary from person to person, from sub-audience to sub-audience, but they all include values centered around tradition, family, independence, tolerance, pride in where they come from, personal fitness and wellness, and, most importantly, concern for the kind of world they will leave behind for their children and grandchildren. Brands that reflect these values will earn long-lasting loyalty from New American Middle consumers.
Second, the New American Middle wants to look good, and they want to feel proud about what they wear, what they furnish their homes with, and which brands they recommend to their friends, family, and neighbors. The proliferation of style blogs, design websites, and DIY television shows has created an audience that is much more knowledgeable and style-conscious than any traditional notion of “the middle.” However, these audiences do not respond to
how can your brand market to the new
Many prominent advertising and marketing agencies exist in urban hubs while their clients’ customers live in the spaces in between, the spaces that are home to the New American Middle. This creates a cultural disconnect. Bridging that disconnect for our clients is how we help them win.
We work diligently to give dimension and texture to these audiences in ways that help brands build lasting and meaningful relationships. While idolatry of the unattainable has worked for many brands for many years, we know the New American Middle responds best to aspirational yet authentic creative that reflects the best versions of their real lives.
If you don’t believe us, take a look at our client list, and some of our past work. These are brands you will recognize, and images you will remember. They represent all the work we’ve done to help enrich, in ways large and small, the living rooms, the kitchens, and the closets of millions of American consumers.