I hope you’re finding silver linings.
That’s how I’ve been signing off from my emails lately. At least with people I know well or when I think I can read the room.
Truth is, if I’m emailing with someone, they’re likely among the fortunate. They’re working comfortably from home – nagging kids or loneliness notwithstanding. They might be worried about their job, their employees, or a sick family member, but I’d never know. They put on a happy face.
It’s safe to assume nobody’s fully loving this. Even for the luckiest of us, it sucks more than it doesn’t.
So I’m grateful for the silver linings.
Maddie and I are learning guitar. And aside from the fact that my fingers are torn to shreds, I have the manual dexterity of a walrus, and guitar theory makes less sense to me than Arabic, I’m loving it.
We go to our cabin every week. I know, I know. Shelter in place! But up here, we’re typically ½ mile from the next human being. It’s safer for everyone.
We’ve had more time for movies, which has allowed me to go deeper into the vault. Even Tommy Boy and Armageddon made the docket. Normally, as the only guy in the house, our movie time is too precious for my choices to win out.
People try to relate this crisis to 9/11. But other than being tragedies of epic proportions and gripping, collective fixations, they have almost nothing else in common. The fallout of 9/11 was more emotional, setting our country on a path of fear and xenophobia – and eventually tribalism – that never waned.
This tragedy is more physical, certainly more financial. Yes, it’s taxing psychologically – we haven’t even begun to contemplate the mental health damage it’s doing. But it feels more palpable. It goes without saying, the death toll is much higher.
The meta silver lining, however, is that 9/11 didn’t really have any silver linings. Sure, the country united for five minutes when Bush’s approval rating hit the 80s. But that’s like the environmental impact while everyone’s quarantined. It will be over faster than it started. I also wonder how united we would have been if social media was around.
There are real silver linings right now. Things have slowed down. People take stock of the things that matter most – and those that don’t – when they can’t have everything. Little about 9/11 made us better people for the long run.
But I believe a lot about this crisis will.
Here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Rich people know what’s best for poor people or just think they do. If you want to exercise your cynicism muscles while drinking your coffee this morning, enjoy the lovely chart below. Even though the financial hardships of this crisis are hitting lower-income Americans hardest, it’s the wealthiest who are screaming the loudest to reopen the economy. Lower-income groups are also the most likely to be inflicted with the virus or know someone who has been (largely because they live in high-density urban areas). When weighing the economic impact against their health, they are valuing the latter. The rich, not so much.
Other demographic variables will factor into the recovery as well – and for some types of social gatherings more than others. Women are going to be more cautious than men, older people more cautious than younger ones. Small gatherings of family and friends will bounce back first, major events like concerts and sports will bounce back last. Restaurant and retail stores will fall somewhere in the middle. You can see all of that here. If I worry about anything, it’s the performing arts. The audiences of musical theater, symphonies, and operas over-index as older and more female. That’s going to be the biggest hill to climb.
We started tracking how hundreds of different brands are going to fare post-quarantine based on the attitudes and profiles of their various customer segments. Here are a few studies to wet your whistle:
And if you think those are awesome, you should see the shit we don’t give away for free.
Homeschooling their kids has given parents a newfound appreciation for teachers. I feel so lucky that my daughters are old enough to be self-sufficient while eLearning. My heart goes out to the parents trying to do a full day of work with kids tugging at their legs. And indeed, 74% of parents with school-age children say it’s been challenging to very difficult while their kids are doing class at home. 1 in 4 parents have even dropped money on supplemental learning tools for their kids to alleviate the struggle. Hang in there, moms and dads.
Of all the positive environmental implications of social distancing, the decline of single-use plastics is another one worth noting. It seems like we’re emptying our dishwasher twice a day in our house. But food packaging, Ziplocs, and other items never leave the pantry. In all, 41% of Americans say they’ve cut back on single-use plastics over the past 6 weeks. Maybe we’re learning how little we actually need them, which would be a good thing.
A lot of consumers are comfort-shopping during the crisis, especially people who are the most worried about their jobs. Hardly a day goes by that an Amazon box (or 5) doesn’t show up at our doorstep, sending our dog into a frenzy invariably while I’m on a Zoom meeting. A lot of people have used their extra time at home to make a purchase they weren’t planning. What’s interesting is that there is a high correlation between splurge-buying and being concerned about your job – suggesting it’s one way people are simply trying to feel better.
And as always, we published way more studies this week than I have time to write about:
- Podcasting is taking a hit during quarantine;
- So are dating apps because of course they are;
- Gen Xers and Gen Zs are the most likely to watch the Saved by the Bell reboot;
- Gen Zs also love house plants during quarantine;
- Telemedicine keeps booming and it’s not going to stop;
- Earth Day was this week and we studied the hell out of it;
Last but not least we held a major webinar about cannabis usage during the CV crisis. Yes, we did it on 4/20. But no, we didn’t do it at 4:20 pm. But you can access it here.
These were the most popular questions of the week:
- Have you been having stranger than usual quarantine dreams?
- Do you cut your own grass or do you contract with a landscaping / lawn-care company?
- At what age range did you have your first kiss?
- How often do you eat at / in front of your computer?
- If given the choice, would you rather quarantine with your own parents or your spouse / partner’s parents?
Hoping you’re finding silver linings,