Reaching the middle
Stereotypes kill. having expertise in the culture you’re trying to reach is critical.
Founder/CEO of New Heartland Group, Paul Jankowski, launched the firm after working on both coasts and realizing the New Heartland is far more than a geographic segment; it’s a cultural segment that deserves recognition.
The nuanced insights that Paul Jankowski offers into the needs, desires, affinities, and values of customers in America’s New Heartland, have helped some of PepsiCo’s biggest brands form deep, lasting relationships with these important customers.
Indra Nooyi, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo (former)
Paul desired to understand what makes New Heartlanders unique, so he drove his pick-up truck 1,500 miles through the New Heartland asking people what mattered to them the most. Countless conversations led to writing his first book, “How to Speak American: Building Brands in the New Heartland.” The book defines this massive, yet under-served cultural segment and traces the role core values such as faith (not religion), community and family play in buying behavior. The New Heartland is a massive and influential cultural segment representing nearly 60% of U.S. customers. From the Southwest, Midwest, and parts of the Southeast, New Heartlanders embrace unique cultural nuances anchored in core values and lifestyle activities. Brands that ignore these nuances miss a big opportunity that could pay off for generations. He then honed this thinking with proprietary research and authored a second book, “Speak American Too: Your Guide to Building Powerful Brands in the New Heartland.”
We Wrote the Book on Marketing to the New Heartland
The New Heartland Speaks includes powerful new insights on how to reach the New Heartland customer. With first-of-its-kind research, this marketing guide identifies differences between Gen Z, millennials and Gen X customers in the New Heartland and Coasts including brand perceptions, lifestyle influences, and more.
The New Heartland is interpreting style through these core values, building on its rich heritage and culture to influence trends the rest of the country is adopting. This influence is seen in all key New Heartland touchpoints – Music, Outdoors/Sports, Food, Fashion and Technology. And let’s not forget – Politics.
Country music, the #1 format in the New Heartland, has crossed over to mainstream. Chris Stapleton went from unknown to SNL; Taylor Swift from Nashville to New York. New sports like kayak fishing, and social media being used for everything from fish-finding to virtual tournaments, are making outdoors activities more accessible and appealing. Foodies no longer have to limit themselves to New York, Chicago or LA. Startups are finding the New Heartland to be welcoming, less costly and more balanced than the coastal stalwarts of Silicon Valley and Alley.
We build connections by helping brands understand how culture, core values and lifestyle activities influence buying behaviors.
Underlying this growing interest in the New Heartland is what we call the New Heartland way, a manner of living grounded in core values of faith, community and family.
These key cultural differences manifest themselves in ways big and small. Here are some highlights from New Heartland Group’s Millennial Research:
- Are more likely to check Facebook in free time (vs. Instagram)
- Get married earlier
- Have kids sooners (vs. working)
- Are politically conservative
- Own a home or plan to in the next 5 years
- Still discover music on terrestrial radio (vs. online)
- Watch TV on set top (vs. online)
- Rank faith as a core value (vs. social responsibility)
- Prefer college over professional sports
- Prefer country music (vs. Rock)