Hi there. Glad to be back.
If you’re a regular reader of this email, you’ve probably picked up on the man-crush I have on Bob Lefsetz. He’s a music industry legend, a prodigious wordsmith, and ferreter of truth. These are a few of my favorite things.
So, I had quite the bout of Impostor Syndrome when Bob invited me to join his podcast in Santa Monica a few weeks ago. I wanted to interview HIM. I was dying to know about the origins of his inimitable writing style, all the music history he’s witnessed, or what it’s like to have Taylor Swift write a song about you. Fortunately, I got to do that off-air.
On-air, we talked about a lot of the topics you read about in this email every week, the big trends changing the world before our eyes. We talked about other important stuff too, like the sure-fire way to beat Millennials at Rock, Paper, Scissors, why Gary Busey fans love Kia cars so much, or why CPAP machines shouldn’t be sold to sleep apnea patients – but to their spouses.
There’s so much more. Give it a listen while you’re on the treadmill or stuck in traffic.
And if you ever want to experience the full gravity of Bob Lefsetz, get him to print your email address in one of the letters to his army of loyal readers. It felt like my inbox was under assault by Russian bots – but it was awesome.
By the way, welcome all of you first-timers. Don’t expect to find Bob’s gift for storytelling here, or anywhere for that matter. If you want a good feel forwhat you can expect, check out the archives. Most people would recommend this one or this one for starters.
Otherwise, here’s what we’re seeing right now:
Consumer confidence is so volatile it’s almost not worth talking about. We thought we were improving the science of economic sentiment monitoring by publishing a bi-weekly measure, in contrast to the prevailing once-a-month indices. Well, two-week trends are meaningless at the moment. Consumer confidence is fluctuating almost by the day, in reaction (or overreaction, per Cambridge Analytica) to the news cycle. Yes, our latest two-week reading showed a slight decline, driven by pessimism about the job market. But you can see below how different a bi-weekly index would look if we had reported it just three days earlier. Crazy times.
A smart home is a safe home. I know that sounds like a corny public service announcement. What I meant to say is that we believe the biggest opportunity for near-term growth in the smart home technology sector is in areas related to home safety and security. Refrigerators that order my groceries for me or voice-activated climate control might sound sexy but those kind of convenience items are still just for the earliest of adopters. One of the biggest things driving today’s stay-at-home economy is our desire to feel safe and secure. Products and technologies that deliver on that desire are winning right now.
I’m not getting the whole Spotify thing. With the important caveat that our numbers are U.S. only, it’s hard for me to slap a ‘unicorn’ label on Spotify in the wake of its public offering this week. Either this is the most wrong our numbers have ever been (and we’re really good at this stuff) or the growth of Spotify in the U.S. has been modest for the better part of three years. Since we started tracking it, Spotify has picked up just about 1% of the U.S. adult population every year, putting its aggregate audience numbers safely below Twitter or Pinterest.
The unexpected success of the Roseanne reboot was driven by politics because everything is. Even with a slight dip in viewership in its second week, the Roseanne revival on ABC continued to shock media pundits with its ratings. Many people have surmised that the audience bonanza was politically-charged, as both the theme of the show and the Donald Trump-Roseanne Barr lovefest were presumably mobilizing the Trump cohort of TV viewers. Well, surmise no more. Our data showed a nearly 2-to-1 Republican skew among the Roseanne audience. Don’t be surprised to seemore media outlets follow this tribal blueprint. If winning 30% of U.S. adults is good enough to get a President elected, it’s certainly good enough to win a ratings timeslot.
Lots of people still drink their tap water. We get asked all the time by Wall St. types whether we think La Croix is going to bankrupt the soft drink industry (no, it’s not). And there’s no shortage of bad PR about the bottled water and the plastic chemicals it proliferates. Lost in all of that is the factthat half of Americans still drink more tap or well water than anything else, particularly people in lower income strata and rural areas. This is true even though only 29% of Americans trust their tap water more than other forms. We need clean drinking water – because people will drink it whether it’s clean or not.
Random (School) Stats of the Week
- 60% of people took a bus to school;
- 34% say that Math was their least favorite subject in school, followed by Gym (14%), and Foreign Language (13%);
- 69% of people dissected a frog when they were in school;
- 18% of people got in trouble for violating a dress code;
- 32% of people played an instrument in the school band.
And there you have it.
Hoping you’re well.