Omaha – Is it “typical America”? 1

Let me start this blog off by saying I live in Los Angeles.  Often when talking with my friends or colleagues about new devices and gadgets, I hear someone say “everyone has that” where ”that” is a DVR or iPhone or other new high tech gadget.  Or they talk about a movie or television show and assume everyone has seen it.  My response is – what are people doing in Omaha?  I don’t mean this in a disparaging way – rather for some reason I have classified Omaha as place where people are typical Americans – and the people in LA are not – especially ones working in entertainment.  Many of us surround ourselves with people just like ourselves – and assume everyone else is just like us, which we all inherently know is not right.  Most of my friends have some sort of smartphone.  Almost all have a DVR (including my 92-year-old grandmother – no, she doesn’t have a smartphone though she does have a cell phone).  What does the average American do though?  What are people in Omaha doing?  How “average American” are people in Omaha?

According to the 2010 Census, there are 1,080,375 people living in the Omaha, NE Designated Market Area (DMA), which includes 24 counties; 14 in Nebraska, 9 in Iowa and 1 in Missouri.  What do we know about them?

As a whole, the Omaha DMA population is 49.4% male and 50.6% female.  84.4% of the population identifies themselves as White.  9.1% of the population identifies themselves as Hispanic. The median income in 2010 was $55,142, which is just above the US median income of $54,442.

People in Omaha are “average” Americans in many ways.  Here are some key statistics for the overall Omaha DMA:

Activity Index Average Spend per HH per Year
Watch baseball



Own a DVR



Watch American Idol



Health Insurance Cost



Coffee at Home



All neighborhoods in Omaha are not the same.  Just like the rest of the US, there is diversity in the area.  Retailers, marketers, distributors, and others who have direct consumers need to know where their customers live – or where the opportunity may lie.  Understanding what activities consumers are engaging in or what they are purchasing is critical to knowing where customers and opportunities lie.

Baseball is one of the key all-American sports.   It is popular with millions of Americans who visit ballparks and watch it on television every year.  Unfortunately for Omaha, it does not have a major league team.  The closest team is the Kansas City Royals – almost 200 miles away.  This means that many Omaha residents who are baseball fans watch it on TV.

Baseball TV Viewing Index by Zip Code

Overall, the city is relatively “average” in terms of its baseball viewing.  Residents in zip codes on the outer edge of the area tend to be less interested in watching on television.  One zip code, though, stands out as having an above average viewing index of 143 meaning residents there are 1.43 times more likely to watch baseball on TV.  The zip code is 68113, which is the location of Offutt Air Force Base.

American Idol is one of the most popular television shows on today with a wide range in its viewing audience from age to demographics.  While it isn’t as popular as it once was, millions are still tuning in to watch and vote every week.  On April 16, 2012, 15.3 million households tuned in to view the results show, according to Nielsen (prior seasons have had 20-30 million viewers per show).  That’s over 13% of all households in the US.  Residents of Omaha are typically American when it comes to American Idol with an index of 98.  Neighborhoods around Omaha do vary.

American Idol Viewing Index by Zip Code

The index of American Idol viewers is similar to that of baseball viewers.  People living closer to the city of the Omaha DMA have average viewing habit and people living near the edges have below average viewing habits, as compared to the typical American.  This may indicate that these are simply the people who watch TV.  The zip code with the highest index (147) is again 68113 indicating that those on The Offutt Air Force Base are much more likely to tune in.

Digital video recorders (DVRs) have made a big impact in the media industry.  Enabling consumers to shift their television viewing from appointment viewing to on-demand has greatly affected how media companies market and distribute their product.  Living in a city where media is one of the main industries and everyone knows someone in the “industry”, there is a skew in the belief about DVRs – that everyone has one.  It’s not quite true – it’s somewhere around 50% of US households.  While this isn’t something to ignore, knowing that half the country still watches TV live (or on VHS tapes) is important and can affect what type of content is developed and how it is distributed.  How does Omaha stack up?

As pointed out above, Omaha is average in terms of households owning a DVR.  It has an index of 101.  Not all areas of Omaha are the same though.

DVR Ownership Index by Zip Code

While overall the city is average in terms of DVR ownership, there are distinct differences in areas around the city.  The zip codes with a high index all have high median incomes – over $65,000.  All of these zip codes are located in or very close to the actual city of Omaha.  The zip codes with lower indices for DVR ownership all primarily away from Omaha and on the outskirts of the Omaha DMA.

Knowing what consumers spend their money on and how much is key to understanding their preferences and what they may or may not buy in the future.  Coffee is a key part of many people’s day.  While many go to Starbucks to consume their favorite caffeinated beverage, many also simply buy it at home and consume it there.  The average American household spends about $64.20 on coffee each year.  The average household in the Omaha DMA spends slightly less – $62.31.

Average HH Annual Coffee Spend at Home by Zip Code

There are just a few neighborhoods in Omaha where, overall, the spending on coffee is either well above or below average.  There are a couple of neighborhoods, though, where either coffeehouses or coffee distributors want to understand their demographics as they are big purchasers of coffee at home.  Three zip codes have an average household spending of coffee of over $100 per year.  They are 68130, 68135, and 68118.  These are all high income zip codes with median incomes over $90,000.  Their dominant tapestry groups are all Boomburbs.  More about tapestry segments and segmentation can be found at

Health insurance is a concern of most Americans.  The average American pays about $1,865 annually for it.  Many factors go into how much one pays including family size, age, health condition, and much more.  It can also vary based on where you live – from the state, city, and even neighborhood.  The average household in Omaha pays slightly more – $1888.61.

Average HH Health Insurance Spend by Zip Code

While it’s difficult to say why one area has higher health insurance than another as there are so many complex factors, we can determine that overall in Omaha, the range that a household pays is “typical”.  That said, there are areas that pay much higher than average.  The top three are the same top three zip codes as the coffee ones – 68130, 68135, and 68118.  This may speak to the fact that these are higher income areas whose residents are able to spend on items they want and need.  Households in these top three zip codes spend, on average, $2,878.09 per year on health insurance.  This is 50% more than the average American household.  This information can help health industry professionals determine what services or clinics may be needed in an area.

What does this all mean in terms of Omaha?  Well, in these criteria, it is fairly “typically American.”  I am sure there are other criteria where it is much different.  It’s important for companies to understand each individual market – and even neighborhood – as there are distinct differences among them.

This is the first in a series about various local markets around the country.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

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