I spoke at the Women’s Foodservice Forum in Dallas this week. 

It was a gathering of female CEOs, presidents, and other megastars in the restaurant industry. A few men were there.

Noelle and Maddie gave me a stern lecture before I left: “You better not mansplain anything, Dad!” Not a lot makes me nervous, but that definitely stuck in my head.

Imagine standing in front of some of the most successful women in the world – who deftly balance running huge companies and multi-generational families – and telling them about the hardships of COVID on women. Like they didn’t already know it a billion times over.

In earlier sessions, I heard incredible testimonials and wisdom from the attendees: how they managed their jobs, kids, aging parents, employees, and boards, all while trying to care for themselves. If you’re a man and you think you can relate, you can’t.

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women – financially, physically, and mentally – is one of the greatest tragedies of the COVID era. It’s up there with the widening gap between rich and poor, the developmental challenges for kids, and the loss of nearly a million loved ones – all of which, by the way, caused outsized stress on our better half. 

As I fumbled through my slides, trying to explain what all this means to the food industry, there was little fodder for optimism. Just as COVID is waning, rising gas prices and inflation will inevitably result in families reducing restaurant spending. That means more cooking at home and more grocery shopping. And we all know who does the majority of those things.

Or do we? 

When I shared this chart, you could almost hear the collective eye-rolling:

Half of men think they do most of the grocery shopping? Lol. I’ve never been in the Giant Eagle when I wasn’t outnumbered at least 5 to 1.  

In the earliest days of COVID, I did notice more men in the aisles – a meager act of chivalry, as we braved the unknown. By last fall, the numbers were worse than ever.

Come on guys. 

Now home, I’m grateful the WFF exists. Watching these women supporting each other, sharing stories, and shining a spotlight on their challenges gave me hope for the world my daughters are walking into. 

But men need to do their part. 

Start by going grocery shopping and cooking dinner tonight (and cleaning up). It’s the least we can do.  

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Netflix could lose a non-trivial number of subscribers if they clamp down on password sharing. As of this week, 74% of Netflix users have at least one other person in or out of their household who uses their account. Twenty-three percent have three or more additional people using their account. Across all streamers, 45% of people who currently share an account say they would cancel their subscription if companies like Netflix – who are rumored to begin prohibiting the practice – follow through. Maybe forcing new people to subscribe will offset the difference. Or maybe they’re all bluffing. An interesting aside, the percentage of Americans who say they are using or have used an ex-romantic partner’s account after breaking up has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. Lots of post-lockdown breakups, I guess. 

People aren’t stressing about the new Omicron variant. Compared to similar points as Delta and the original Omicron loomed, concerns over the so-called new “stealth” Omicron variant are muted. Just 17% of Americans are very worried about it. Comfort doing in-person things keeps climbing in almost every category. Notably, the percentage of people comfortable going to large public events like concerts or sporting events has eclipsed comfort traveling, for the first time…though plenty of people are still heading on the road (or in the air) for spring break.

Nobody really knows what Web3 is. This is one of those buzzwords I actively try to avoid retaining until I have to, like “zero party data,” now peppering the media landscape. The notion of Web3 – basically a new version of the internet built using blockchain technology (I feel like this was a Silicon Valley subplot at some point) – would theoretically decentralize the web. At least for now, the concept has a long way to go. Only 8% of Americans claim to have a strong understanding of Web3, while 56% have never even heard of it (that seems high to me). Naturally, Gen Z asserts to be the most fluent on the matter. Because of course they are. 

On the subject of Gen Z, they’re all about Starbucks, just not coffee. The popularity of Starbucks took a hit more severe than most big restaurant brands during the pandemic, owed to its reliance on commuters and urban foot traffic (overall U.S. coffee consumption has remained remarkably consistent throughout COVID). Starbucks’ brand favorability dropped 10% over the past two years, while 18- to 24-year-olds are an interesting subset. Fifty-three percent regularly make purchases at Starbucks, but less than half of that group like the coffee, which means they’re ordering other things. The stat below blew me away – only 1 in 4 Starbucks customers walk into a store to order their stuff.

100% of the 16-year-olds in my house plan to watch the Oscars on Sunday and she won’t be alone. Twice as many Americans say they’re “very likely” to watch the Academy Awards this year compared to last year and let me just say how satisfying it is that “Oscars” and “Academy Awards” are interchangeable, because there’s nothing that annoys me more as a writer than using the same word or phrase over and over again, and on this topic I have ready-made synonyms which is awesome. Anyhoo, young people – especially TikTok users, (i.e., all young people) – should bolster the Oscars’ ratings this year, which would be a much-needed rebound for the Academy Awards. 

Other stuff from the CivicScientists:

  • Over half of people who have been on a cruise don’t plan to go again;
  • Going back into the office isn’t as popular as it was a couple weeks ago; 
  • People who go camping are 2X more likely than non-campers to drink beer and a few other things not so obvious about campers.

The trending questions this week:

Answer Key: Tons, I’m old; Yep; It sucks equally; I think about it; Follow me on Twitter @jdcivicscience; I grew up in the woods, so yes. 

Hoping you’re well.


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