Recent government reports provide a great deal of insight into the mobility of Americans. People move for many reasons, including a new job, a change in marital status or family size, or a change in economic status.
For years, major mailers have used new mover names for their direct mail programs because, simply put, they work. This new analysis can help marketers identify new segments of this population, and understand the nature of new movers.
A total of 35 million people ages 1 and up—about 12.5% of the population—moved last year according to the latest government statistics. That hasn’t changed in a few years, but it’s lower than the average has been over the past decade. Fifty years ago the percentage was 20%.
New mover lists currently on the market usually offer between 1 million and 1.5 million names a month. Many of the more sophisticated companies are getting and mailing the names weekly.
Moving is seasonal. People don’t like to move during the Christmas season and weekly new-move counts are the lowest at that time of year, averaging 225,000 a week. Parents will want to have their children complete the school year in their old school before moving. A typical week in August will see 350,000 new moves.
A full 69.3% of these movers stayed within the same county while 16.7% changed counties, but stayed within the same state. Eleven and a half percent changed states, and 2.5% moved into the U.S. from another country.
Mover rates differ by characteristics, such as age, race, origin, marital status, income and whether the housing unit is owned or rented.
Regionally, people in the Northeast were the least likely to move with a mover rate of 8.3%. This is followed by the Midwest with 11.8% moves. The south had 13.6% and the west 14.7%.
Major cities within metropolitan areas experienced a net loss of 2.3 million new movers. The suburban areas experienced a net gain of 2.5 million movers.
Economics dramatically affect new mover rates. Almost 20% of those unemployed lived in a different residence one year ago, compared to 12.4% for those employed, and 9.5% of those not in the labor force.
Generally, people with income below the poverty line are more likely to move than those just above the line. A full 23.6% of people with incomes below the poverty line had moved within the past year as compared to 16.5% of those above the line.
The black population has the highest annual move rate (16.7%), followed by Hispanics (15.6%), Asians (13.9%), and non Hispanic whites at 10.8%.
The younger you are, the more mobile you are. People between the ages of 20 and 29 moved at twice the annual rate, while people aged 65 to 84 made up only 4% of the moves.
Singles and divorced people moved more frequently than married people. But widowed people are the least likely to move. Annually, 22.9% of never-married people moved, 12.0% of married people, 20.5% of divorced or separated people and 6.9% of widowed people.
Moves amongst renters are very high, with renters moving more than three times more often than home owners. 33% of renters move each year, versus one in 11 of homeowners.
The majority of people move to improve their situations. About 10% moved out of a rented home and into a home they own. About 5% moved into cheaper housing. About 30% make the move for family related reasons, the main ones being setting up a new household or changing marital status. A total of 16% of people moved because of work related reasons, some for a new job, others to simply make their commutes easier.
The more education the person has, the more likely that the move will be work-related. Work related moves represent only 6% of the intra-county moves, 31% of the county-to-county moves, and more than 65% of the long distance moves.
Typically, the distance a person moves is directly related to the reason for moving. Longer distance moves are more likely to be job related, while shorter distance moves are more likely to be associated with housing related issues. People with lower incomes and lower education levels are more likely to move for family reasons, while people with higher incomes and education levels are more likely to move for work related issues.
Why This Matters to Marketers
A new resident will spend more money in the first six months than he or she will during next three years. Any company that sells a product that a new resident needs will benefit by marketing to new movers. Some of these needs are obvious or intuitive, but many are not.
When setting up a new household, new furniture and furnishings are almost always a part of a new move. People buy new carpeting, tile and rugs, draperies and blinds. A new move will trigger a sense of wanting a fresh start so it’s common to see people buying new sheets, towels, shower curtains, anything and everything to make the new house their new home.
Home improvement stores find new residents are important customers. They’re buying new toilet seats and door locks, doorknobs and faucets. And they need nails and screws and tools.
Every type of contractor generates business from new residents. That includes painters, plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, alarm companies and dozens more.
New lawn service and pool service and pest control are frequently required.
Depending on the distance of the move, every type of retail and local service relationship must be reestablished. That includes where you buy pizza, get your hair done, get your clothes cleaned, get you car serviced. All new professional relationships also need to be secured. Doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, pharmacists—all get new business from new residents.
Often even a short distance move will make people rethink their current relationships with others. The very act of moving can trigger looking for everything from a new beautician to dentist, to new Chinese restaurant.
If your business falls into any of the categories listed above, speed is critical. If another Mexican restaurant sends out a welcome to the neighborhood, free meal certificate mailing before you do, you may have lost your opportunity to become their new supplier in that category. That’s why the savviest of smart marketers mail to new movers on a weekly basis.
David Bancroft Avrick is president and CEO of Avrick Direct Inc.