I can’t wait to fly to Vegas – without a mask – get a massage, eat dinner (inside) at a pricey restaurant, and play Blackjack at a packed table until the sun comes up. With no deadly respiratory virus in the air, I might even indulge in a cigarette or ten.
I also can’t wait to go to a Broadway show. And tailgate at a Steelers game. And sing karaoke in a crowded dive bar. Hell, I’ll be ecstatic to go bowling. And do an escape room.
Tara will have to sign off on all the money that’s going to cost, but I’m prepared to beg.
If you aren’t expecting a massive pendulum swing in spending this year, you’re ignoring the inevitable. It might not be as dramatic as last year, or as abrupt, but it will be close.
The question is, when? And what does everyone do first? And what spending categories will suffer as a result?
For your business, how should you manage production or inventory – what the MBAs call ‘demand planning?’ It seems like toilet paper companies learned their lesson between the first and second wave of COVID. Paper towel companies failed miserably, at least from what I see in the grocery store.
Before the pandemic, one of the biggest trends in consumerism was the decade-long rise of “experiences over things.” The Millennials made it famous. It accelerated the rise of Uber, Airbnb, even GoPro. Dollars shifted steadily from goods to services, which was particularly pesky for economists and the Fed, who were far better at measuring the former.
The pandemic brought that trend to a screeching – but temporary – halt. We simply couldn’t buy experiences anymore. So, we bought televisions, office chairs, and bread makers. And all the sanitizer we could get our hands on.
The reaction to that action is coming. Hard. You can already see signs. Travel reservations in the second half of the year are climbing. We tried to book our band at an outdoor venue in Pittsburgh and every weekend is spoken for after May.
Just as the dust settled around one set of winners and losers, a new dust storm is brewing.
If the bifurcation of consumers and the K-shaped recovery is the Number 1 thing I’ve told you to watch this year, the resurrection of experiences is 1A.
Stay tuned. We’ll tell you as much as we can reasonably give away for free.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
As I was saying… people are fixing to venture out. In case you ever think I’m making this shit up, here are some early signs of more experience-buying in the offing. People who say they plan to dine in at a restaurant are up nine percentage points in the past week. People who say they plan to fly in the next month are up six percentage points. Only major public events like concerts and sports are still flat or worse. In the same study, we looked at some new job-related data – one thing I haven’t realized before is the outsized impact of COVID on smaller employers. It sucks.
Incidentally, a surprising number of people, particularly in lower-wage gigs, left their jobs voluntarily because of COVID. If your employees decide that the dangers of working at your company during a pandemic aren’t worth the measly salaries you pay them, that’s a problem.
Meanwhile, people who lost their jobs because of COVID are propping up dating apps and websites right now. I can’t imagine being in the dating scene today. No thanks. Indeed, the usage of dating apps is way down during the pandemic – correlated highly among people who are most cautious about social distancing, obviously. One group is bucking the trend, however – people who are out of work. Hopefully they’re finding a special someone to help them through these challenging times.
One of the craziest things about influencers on TikTok and Instagram is that most people don’t even notice it’s happening. I could write a book about the things I’ve learned being quarantined with two teenage girls for the last year – it will most certainly be a Saturday rant one of these weeks. Perhaps nothing evaded my comprehension more than their obsession with TikTok. The power of people like Charli D’Amelio is simply staggering. It’s particularly profound because a lot of the users of these platforms don’t recognize influencer content when they see it. The data will blow you away.
The telehealth trend is for the dogs. This is one of those times I hope you don’t just skim the headlines and skip to the silly poll questions at the end, because it’s completely misleading. A solid 15% of pet owners (and a higher percentage of cat owners) have seen a veterinarian virtually – or plan to do so – since the pandemic began. That seems like a small number until you realize nearly half of pet owners didn’t even know it was an option. Tele-pet-icine is coming in particularly handy for cost-conscious owners. How much longer until even the cats and dogs get sick of Zoom meetings?
The varying tastes in beer across the generations are pretty fascinating. I probably spent more time staring at this study this week than anything else I’ve written about. It could just be because I wanted a beer. But it’s also a ton of interesting insights to take in. The differences in preferences among Gen Z, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers are stark. Gen Zs are more brand-loyal, preferring lagers the most. Millennials are the most adventuresome. Gen Xers like all of it. Just give us our beer.
Two more studies this week:
- Smartwatches and fitness trackers have been mired in a long plateau;
- The vast majority of NFL fans would rather see companies donate to support vaccine efforts than advertise during the Super Bowl.
We had too many awesome new poll questions for me to choose from this week so I’m sharing all of them:
- Do you and your spouse / partner usually go to bed at the same time?
- Do you and your spouse / partner typically wake up at the same time in the morning?
- What is the longest amount of time you’ve spent on vacation?
- Do you prefer the taste of Diet Coke more, less, or about the same compared to Classic Coke?
- Do you have a habit of averting your eyes / looking down while directly speaking with another person?
- Cargo pants: love ’em or hate ’em?
- Have you ever considered running for any sort of elected office?
- Who is your favorite James Bond actor?
- You are sharing a pizza with your romantic partner. There is only one slice left. What do you do?
- Have you ever traveled in a private jet?
Hoping you’re well.