We watched the Formula One Miami Grand Prix on Mother’s Day.
It’s what Tara wanted. No, really.
Never in a million years did I think we’d become a motorsports family. But here we are.
I used to follow F1 20 years ago. One of my college friends was Director of Customer Service for Ferrari of Beverly Hills – which is still one of the coolest business cards I’ve ever seen (I stole handfuls of them).
Basically, his job was to field calls whenever Shaq or Steven Spielberg had issues with their car, take a limo to their gated community, drive their car back to the dealership, return it when the work was done, and take a limo back. Pretty sweet gig for a 20-something.
He also got us VIP access to races when F1 raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a couple years. I was spoiled after that.
I hadn’t even thought about F1 for years. Then, one Sunday afternoon, I was cooking a feast in the kitchen and browsed Netflix for background noise. At the top of the screen was Drive to Survive, the F1 documentary series. I clicked on a whim.
A few minutes later, Noelle came into the kitchen and started watching. Then, Tara walked in. One episode turned into another and the rest is history. They were hooked.
The personalities, the stories, and the venues are so compelling, regardless of how much you know about cars. It doesn’t hurt that every F1 driver is obnoxiously good-looking. Eventually, Tara became partial to Team Mercedes (see: Lewis Hamilton), Noelle to Team Ferrari (like her dad). We all root against Red Bull.
Before you could say “pit stop,” Noelle was buying Ferrari merch. Tara was texting me about the qualifying results before I saw them on Twitter.
And when the question of “What do you want to do for Mother’s Day?” came up, it wasn’t brunch or a hike or a day at the spa. It was the race.
It’s not just us. F1 ratings in the U.S. are smashing records across the board. All because of absolutely genius content marketing.
And I thought this email was a clever sales tool.
So, if you want to grow your business, while attracting an audience of hard-to-reach teens and professional women, apparently all you need is a hit Netflix series.
Nothing to it.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Consumer confidence is pretty tragic right now. Our Economic Sentiment Index reached yet another record low this week, as the housing market, optimism for the U.S. economy, and satisfaction with personal finances fell deeper into the tank. There’s nothing good to say.
In related shitty news, people are increasingly fearful of a recession and the impact of rising interest rates. You can see a more detailed breakdown of the chart below by reading this important study. As you might expect, the results vary by income – but maybe not exactly the way you expect. Lower-income adults are more positive on the potential impact of interest rate hikes on the economy, while also being less concerned overall about a possible recession. There could be a degree of “well, things already suck, so whatever” emanating from that sentiment.
In summary, the financial COVID honeymoon appears to be over. For a solid 15 months, the majority of Americans were better off (or the same) financially than they had been before the pandemic. That ship appears to have sailed, blown into a rocky shore by the headwinds of inflation, larger than expected tax bills, and stock market carnage. If you subscribe to our Consumer Spending Tracker, you already know what it means for retail and other categories.
Speaking of honeymoons, it should be a good year for wedding gifts. Tenuous outlook for retail aside, we expect a boost in wedding spending this year, as COVID-delayed marriages play catch-up this summer. Higher-income adults plan to spend more for gifts due to inflation, while lower-income adults plan to spend more because so many weddings were postponed during the pandemic. It’s worth noting that 20% of respondents plan to spend more on wedding gifts, simply because they still have more money to spend. For now.
The baby formula crisis sums it all up. I really didn’t want to write about the hardships of women and lower income in America for the millionth time this week, but sometimes things write themselves. The shortage of baby formula hits at the very epicenter of our cultural divide. People with means are stocking up – hoarding even. And the divide grows even wider. Sigh.
Coincidentally, May 8-14 is Women’s Health Week. The CivicScientists churned out a fascinating (and, yes, sobering) study about the state of women’s physical and mental health, including their feelings about work, fitness, and eating. Fifty-five percent of women say they do some form of exercise, 54% visit a primary care doctor, and 56% say they “felt joy” in the last week. It’s up to you if you want to see that as cup-half-full. The real eye candy in the report is the state-by-state view. Women in Wyoming report being the healthiest, while those in Alaska, Maine, and West Virginia rank at the bottom. People in the South claim to be the happiest, while things get bleaker the further north you get of the Mason-Dixon line.
Also, this (guess who makes up most of the 41%):
NFTs are still niche and the whole subject matter makes me feel old AF. Despite all the buzz, low single digits of U.S. adults have purchased NFTs, and the growth rate over the past six months is underwhelming. But the entire story changes when you just look at Gen Z – a full 20% of whom have purchased “virtual apparel,” whatever the hell that is. If you’re into the whole metaverse movement or related gaming – like Minecraft or Roblox – or you just like to remind yourself that you aren’t getting any younger, read this study. Then, get off my lawn.
Streaming is on the rise in the NBA and NHL playoffs. Over half of hockey postseason fans are now watching without cable or satellite. It’s a little lower among NBA playoff watchers (44%), but still a big and growing number. Both fan bases over-index among cryptocurrency investors and NFT buyers, although it’s much higher among the NBA cohort. The intersection of sports, the metaverse, and digital tokens is one place where we see huge opportunity. Not that we’re the first ones to figure that out.
A couple more studies:
- Choosing whether to speak out on Roe v. Wade is a high-wire act for brands;
- Intent to travel (by car) is growing as summer approaches;
- Everything you needed to know – and more – about backyard grillers.
And the most popular questions this week:
- If you could, what kind of garden would you plant in your backyard?
- Do you prefer video games that are realistic or cartoonish?
- If given the opportunity, would you audition to be on your favorite reality show?
- Would you say it’s in poor taste to ask a celebrity in public for a photo?
- True or false: a hot dog is a sandwich.
- Where would you rank Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses among all other rock stars?
Answer Key: Vegetable garden, if it wasn’t for the deer; Realistic; I thought this was a reality show; Depends; False; Upper quartile.
Hoping you’re well.
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In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.
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