If you’ve read this email more than once, you’ve no doubt picked up on my love, hate, pride, shame, loyalty, and disdain for Gen X. There’s no group I’ve studied more closely – partly because everyone else ignores us. 

Also, because we’re the most complex, nuanced – and fascinating – generation of the bunch.

Notwithstanding our disagreements over 2Pac vs. Biggie, Vans vs. Chucks, or Swanson vs. Stouffer’s (TV dinners, for the blue bloods among you), we’re difficult to define along binary lines. 

We skew fiscally conservative but socially liberal, leaving us in political no-person’s land. 

We’re vigilant in our parenting, but life-hackers and slackers in nearly every other way.     

And we’re in the absolute middle when it comes to trust. 

Yes, trust. 

I’ll get to the data in a minute but, in my personal experience, most people fall into one of two camps: 1) They trust and assume the best of everyone; or 2) They distrust and assume the worst of everyone. 

I’m the poster child for #1. It’s why I suck at interviewing people. It’s why I’ve been burned more times than Freddy Krueger. It’s why I always need a few 2s around me. 

Most 2s weren’t born 2s. They’ve been burned so badly that scar tissue eventually took over. The best way to avoid another burn is to stay out of the sun.

If they’re like me, most 1s have concluded that the joys of being trusting, of being vulnerable, are simply worth the burns. At least until they aren’t.

Fortunately, the average person is more trusting than not. But a funny thing happens along the generational continuum. Check this out:

 
Gen Zs take hard sides – and distrust people – a lot. Millennials skew that way too. Boomers, conversely, are more likely to trust people (not to mention everything they see on Facebook) by over 2:1. Then, there’s Gen X, as always, in the middle, the least likely to trust, but also the least likely to take a side. 

The marketing implications of all this are profound, but that’s a story for another day. 

A pessimist would worry that we’ve hardened the younger generations too much – that we’ve conditioned them to believe the world is binary. Or, worse, largely evil. 

An optimist would hope that, as we get older, we learn that most people are good. That they deserve the benefit of the doubt. 

As a Gen Xer, I should be on the fence about it. 

If I weren’t such an optimist.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Consumer confidence rebounded (sort of) this week. It feels more accurate to call this a “correction” after a long stretch of declining numbers. The newness of rising consumer prices, particularly for homes and major purchases, had people more spooked than they should have been. Meanwhile, people are beginning to feel the glow of the fastest rise in wages in over three decades. Even inflation concerns are dissipating. Long-term outlook for the U.S. economy is still tenuous, probably because of the pesky Delta variant. Get vaccinated.  

Not probably – the Delta variant definitely has consumers regressing in their comfort levels. Most of the key metrics we track about the COVID recovery have been sliding over the past week or so, as the pesky new variant of the virus spreads and consumers grow more cautious. There are significant differences by geography – which is affecting views on travel – and political persuasion, which I don’t need to explain. 

People love locally-sourced food, they just don’t care about it at restaurants. If our data is accurate – of course it is – this summer should be a boom for farmer’s markets as people return to outdoor crowds. Two-thirds of Americans love farmer’s markets and 89% are at least somewhat likely to choose local produce in the grocery store, when given the choice. The proclivity doesn’t extend to dining out, however, as only 12% of U.S. adults consider farm-to-table ingredients to be “very important.”

It might surprise you that fewer people are cutting their own grass during COVID, but not if you think about it. We did a hefty study on lawn care trends and it’s more interesting than you’d expect. The percentage of Americans who mow their own lawn has fallen a whopping 14 percentage points since the beginning of the year. I assumed with the COVID-borne renaissance of “being outside,” more people would be pushing their own mowers around the yard. But no. We focus so much on whether consumers are using their newfound cash to buy goods or experiences – maybe COVID taught us the value of buying time. 

Oat milk and 5G are all the rage. The latest version of our quarterly Trend Adoption Tracker came out and it’s full of all kinds of interesting things. Online car-buying is rebounding, meal kit subscriptions are growing again, and crypto is surging. I could tell you everything else but then you won’t read it for yourself.

I’m a regular Nextdoor user and I’m still surprised by how big it is. More than one-third of Americans have used the hyper-local social network app, Nextdoor, and the majority of them are big fans. Two-thirds of users engage with the app at least weekly – 30% daily. The biggest users are parents and pet owners. What’s particularly promising, ahead of the company’s IPO, is that nearly half of Americans haven’t even heard of Nextdoor…yet. Still lots of growth to come. 

We did two more studies this week:

And these were our most popular questions:

 Answer Key: Sadly, yes; A dive bar; This is a stupid question, grilling rocks; Definitely big; Hell yes.

Hoping you’re well. 

JD