I came across an interesting Washington Post blog concerning research recently published by the Vancouver School of Economics and McGill University about the “geography of well-being” in Canada. The study covered Canada’s entire population, with over 400,000 responses from 1,200 communities across the country.
The research indicated a correlation between population density (concentration of people in a given area) and happiness. When researchers ranked the average happiness of all of these communities, they found that average population density in the most miserable 20 percent of communities was more than eight times greater than that of the happiest 20 percent of communities. The paper concluded that life is significantly less happy in urban areas versus rural areas.
The research found that people in the happiest communities has shorter commute times, less expensive housing, and less transient population of residents. They are more likely to attend church and are significantly more likely to feel a “sense of belonging” in their communities. There are other studies done in the United States that support the “rural-urban happiness gradient” which, stated more simply, means that the farther away from the cities people live, the happier they tend to be.
For me, this study offers an explanation as to why we are seeing growth across new lifestyle segments including weekend farmers/ranchers, hobby farmers, gentleman farmers, backyard gardeners, etc. Many lifelong city residents aren’t quite ready to completely uproot their lives away from the city and to a small town, but they are actively seeking a break from the hustle and bustle, and finding that break in hobbies like gardening or part-time farming.
This “happiness” factor is among the most pertinent considerations when positioning your brand in these industries. As with marketing to any audience, it’s important to understand the motivations and values that this growing consumer segment holds. Brands that effectively communicate this feeling of happiness will resonate with this brand-loyal and growing audience.
If your brand is looking for more insights into this audience or looking to develop a marketing plan that will resonate with them, contact Geile/Leon. Our marketing communications professionals will help you find that emotional connection between your brand and the rural lifestyle consumer.
Tim Leon is President of Geile/Leon Marketing Communications and owns a 137 acre property in southern Missouri where he can be found on the weekends. He can be reached at 314-727-5850.