I was asked in an interview recently what I’m passionate about and the word “Relationships” flew out of my mouth. I’d never said that before. But I’ll own it.

People are awesome. Even the ones we may not like all that much, at first, probably have something going on in their lives that makes them less than perfect in that moment. Your opinion about them would likely change if you knew what it was.

That neighbor with socio-political views you find abhorrent? Ask if they ever had the opportunity to go to college or spend time with people from other cultures. That person committing a petty crime in your neighborhood? Ask if they had a traumatic childhood or an illness they couldn’t afford to treat. 

We almost always judge before we ask. And we lose out on precious opportunities to learn and grow when we do. 

It’s one of the reasons I love our company so much – we’re in the asking business. The view we gain into ‘the why’ behind people’s actions and beliefs can’t help but fill you with empathy. Sometimes, I even find things in our data that help me better understand myself.

It’s also why investing in relationships is such a valuable use of our time. Because you might be fortunate enough one day to have more money than you’ll ever need. But you’ll never, ever have more – or more diverse – friends than you need.

I couldn’t stand some of my very best friends when I first met them. Others – who are so far from me on the political spectrum, they might as well be on another planet – would give me the shirt off their back. Don’t judge a book by its Facebook page. Nearly everyone is redeemable.

Make no mistake. Relationships are an investment. They may seem like long shots in the beginning or capital-intensive over time. But the returns on a good relationship are priceless.

There’s a lot of talk about a loneliness epidemic in our country right now and kudos to the Surgeon General for shining a spotlight on it. COVID aftershocks, social media, remote work, and political discord all play a part. And, while policies, programs, and technology reforms might help, we can all lead by example. It needn’t be a sacrifice.

Yes, good relationships can take work. But they’re more than worth it.   

Here’s what we’re seeing:

U.S. parents are getting an unusually early head start on back-to-school shopping. The percentage of Americans who will have school-age kids in the fall and have completed ALL of their school supply shopping is up nearly 50% compared to this time last year. Yes, it’s still only 14% of BTS shoppers overall, but still. Inflation concerns continue to be a motivating factor, leading people to grab deals whenever they can find them. Notably, tech and device purchases are being driven by parents with kids who are struggling in school.  

Everybody knows social media is bad for teens and children, except for teens and children. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at public sentiment about the impact of social media on young people. A whopping 89% of adults believe it’s harmful, with nearly a third saying it’s “extremely harmful.” Gen Z is a little less hostile. We also reported on Americans’ attitudes toward government spending across various categories – and large majorities supported maintaining or increasing spending on all of them. And that, my friends, is why we have massive federal debt and deficits. The third thing to know, you’ll have to read for yourself.

Gen Z and younger Millennials could get crushed by Netflix’s crackdown on password-sharing. Approximately 39% of current Netflix users say they’re at least somewhat likely (17% very likely) to lose access to the service as the company begins to cut off users outside of the primary household. Those numbers skyrocket among people aged 18-34, for obvious reasons. As a parent of one kid in college and another not far behind her, I’m hoping Netflix could be like health insurance – let my kids use it until they’re in their mid-20s

The way people get their fast food is changing, fast. Few industries are a bellwether of changing consumer preferences like QSR. Innovations like kiosk ordering and mobile app delivery and – coming soon – AI-based order-taking seem to take hold first in QSR, largely due to the heavy population of younger consumers. A plurality of all age groups still prefer the good old-fashioned drive-through to snag their burgers and fries, including a clear majority of Xers and Boomers. But nearly half of Gen Z prefer digital ordering or delivery. That said, it all varies widely by day part and, especially, by brand.

Your favorite type of ethnic cuisine says a lot about you. I love this study we published about Americans’ preferred ‘international’ food. Italian ranks number one, by an angel hair, mostly because it’s overwhelmingly most popular among Boomers and Northeasterners. Every other age group and region (except the Midwest, slightly) picks Mexican as their numero uno. Japanese and Indian are increasingly more popular the younger the age group. We can also reliably predict where people shop for groceries based on their answer.

Only 40% of U.S. adults are satisfied with their current weight. Put another way, 60% of us are either trying to lose weight, struggling, or unable to even get started. The largest percentage is looking to lose between 10-25 lbs. Exercise (at 48%) is the top choice of weight-loss aspirants, while prescription drugs like Ozempic are of interest to 14%. Diet and meal programs, weight-loss apps, supplements, and dieticians/nutritionists all appeal to 10% or more of people looking to shed pounds. The second most popular answer, however, was “Other” (at 27%) – meaning people will try almost anything. 

More great stuff from the InsightStore™ – x2 since I skipped last week:

The most popular questions from the last two weeks:

Answer Key: I would and I have; All-World; Never – I gave them the last name Dick, so that’s probably enough; Time-consuming; For sure; No, you can’t get away with nearly as much today.

Hoping you’re well.


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