Reaching Catholics with Targeted Media Planning
It’s vitally important in media planning and buying that you target your audience and
determine the right media market for your message. The very first step in the process is to
understand the concentration of American Catholics in a given region. For purposes of this
informational document, we researched populations up and down the eastern seaboard.
According to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, the Catholic
share of the U.S. adult population has held fairly steady at just under 25% in recent decades.
What this seeming stability obscures, however, is the large number of people who have left
the Catholic Church. Approximately one third of the survey respondents who say they were
raised in the Catholic faith no longer describe themselves as Catholic. These numbers seem
to illustrate that roughly 10% of all Americans consider themselves as former Catholics.
Research shows, however, that these losses have been partly offset by the approximately
2.6% of the adult population who have changed their affiliation to Catholicism. Another
factor that has assisted in keeping the steady percentage is the disproportionately high
percentage of Catholics among immigrants to the U.S. These two variables have played a key
role in keeping the overall percentage of the population that identifies as Catholic fairly
stable. (Source: Pew Research 2010)
Many assumptions have been made about the concentration of Catholics in certain regions
and cities. However, the Pew Research Study has determined that one of the highest areas of
concentration is in the Northeast with 39% of the area’s population made up of Catholics.
Although this number is quite high, there are two areas along the eastern seaboard that are
even higher. Those areas are Connecticut/Rhode Island with 43% concentration and New
Jersey with 42%. Surprisingly, the Washington, DC/Maryland area has a much lower
concentration coming in at just 18%.
There are many areas to consider in an effort to target Catholics on the east coast. Below we
have profiled several regions.
Market Snapshots (Source Wikipedia, 2000 US Census )
Providence, Rhode Island (Connecticut/Rhode Island)
Providence is the capital and most populous city in Rhode Island. The Providence
metropolitan area, which includes Providence, Fall River, Massachusetts and Warwick has
an estimated population of 1,622,520. In 2006, this area was officially added to the Boston
Combined Statistical Area (CSA), the fifth largest CSA in the country. (What this means for a
media plan is that you have the ability to capture the Boston Metro at a much reduced rate.)
In the last fifteen years, Providence has experienced a sizable growth in its population age
group of those under 18. This growth has been attributed to the influx of Hispanics. The
median age in the city is 28 years although the largest age group is actually those between
the ages of 20 and 24.
DC Metro (includes Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland)
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the state of Virginia
generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, DC. The area is the most
diverse in terms of both the number of ethnic groups and nationalities represented. It also
is the highest income region in Virginia with six of the twenty highest income counties in the
nation. As of 2006, the census estimates over 2, 432,000 people in Northern Virginia. This
number is approximately 32% of the state’s population.
Montgomery County, Maryland, one of the most affluent counties in the country, is situated
just north of Washington, DC and southwest of Baltimore. The recorded population of the
region is approximately 971,600. In addition to being one of the most affluent areas in the
nation, it also has the highest percentage of residents over 25 years of age who hold a post
New Jersey lies largely within the sprawling metropolitan areas of New York City and
Philadelphia and is the most densely populated state in the United States. The population in
July 2009 was estimated to be over 8,707,000 and represents an increase over the 2000
census of 268,000 or 3.2 percent. According to the 2000 Census, the median age of a New
Jersey resident was 36.7 years and the number of 15 to 24 year olds in the area was
measured at over 1,005,000.
Having a specific geography and defined target will provide a better budget benchmark,
making for a much sounder media plan.