My dad was a consummate performer.

He sang in bands in college. Later, he was in a barbershop quartet – I was barely old enough to remember how dorky it seemed at the time. He also used to sing The Lord’s Prayer as a volunteer gig at funerals, although I never saw it because you don’t take your kids to that kind of thing. 

I do vividly remember him belting out his bass vocals in church so loudly every Sunday that my sister and I wished we could hide under the pew in embarrassment. We couldn’t understand why all the other adults loved it so much.  

My dad was famous among his various friend groups for a magic show he did at parties that, let’s just say, wasn’t G-rated. He was probably more famous for walking into every bar or social setting with a barrage of new jokes that made his magic show look like Sesame Street. I wish I could remember them. I wish I could remember even one of them.

It wasn’t always crass. My dad was a pioneer of Dad Jokes that would make your eyes roll out of your head. He loved to introduce people with lines like, “This is my good friend Dave. We went to different high schools together.” 

With a name like, Tom Dick, the silly jokes wrote themselves. “Hi. I’m Tom Dick. Harry sends his regards.” Ugh. The vulgarity of Dick jokes heated up dramatically from there if the room called for it. Beating everyone to the punch was key, letting them know he was in on the gag. It was disarming, endearing even.

He was even a dancer. Whether at weddings or bars, he was always at the center of the dance floor – often with my mom – when the music started. I was mortified, even as people would come up to me to say what a great dancer he was. 

I wish I knew then that it was so cool – or how envious I would be decades later. 

But it does give me hope. When my kids wretch at my jokes (Noelle: “Dad, what do they do when Punxsutawney Phil dies?”; Me: “They get a re-Phil”), mock my band, or sneer at the occasional notoriety I get in my job, maybe they’ll have an appreciation for it one day. 

Being a parent is a long game. It takes one to truly know one.

Happy Father’s Day.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

If you aren’t tracking how the impending return of student loan payments is going to impact your customer, what the hell are you doing? As many as one in five U.S. adults – 43 Million Americans in total – will be impacted when the COVID-era pause on student loan invoices ends in a couple of months. Thirty-two percent of those debt holders report being ‘very concerned’ about their ability to make their payments, while another 26% are ‘somewhat concerned.’ In this era of inflationary tradeoffs and given the profile of student debtors, the consequences for different categories and brands will be significant (yes, we know which ones). Meanwhile, the perceived value of four-year college among Gen Z is falling like a rock.

That’s not the only way Gen Zs are thinking very differently about their future. We’re seeing remarkable shifts in career and life aspirations among Gen Z adults, compared to the younger Millennials who are just a few years older. For starters, Gen Zs are far more interested than Millennials in jobs in professional fields, sales, and finance (good luck without a four-year degree), but also in arts, media, and entertainment. Conversely, interest is declining in government, law, social services, trades, and – sadly – entrepreneurship. Zs are overall less interested in working for small-sized employers. Regardless of where young people work or what they do, what they value in a job is evolving as well. We also looked at their varying aspirations around home ownership, marriage, and starting a family. 

Even LGBTQ+ Americans are becoming more polarized about Pride Month marketing. In one of the more unintuitive findings we’ve discovered in a minute, sentiment toward brands engaging in Pride Month activities – among LGBTQ+ adults – has grown increasingly contentious. The percentage who say they’re more likely to support Pride Month-promoting brands has grown since last year, but remains four points behind pre-2022 levels. The bigger headline is the continued increase of those who say they’re less likely to support those brands, along with a shrinking group of indifferent LGBTQ+ consumers. While I have theories, we don’t explicitly ask and I’m not in the demo to have a valid viewpoint. The trend is notable, nonetheless. 

Meta stands to gain big-time if TikTok is ever banned. Public concern over the privacy and security risks of TikTok cooled slightly since March, perhaps while people shifted more of their technology freakouts toward AI. Still, a large majority (75%) remain concerned, and 51% support state efforts to ban the platform (versus 30% who oppose). Should TikTok ever shut down, 50% of current users say they would move their time and attention to a Meta property – 29% to Facebook and 21% to Instagram – no doubt due to the increased traction of Reels. Given the marketing power of TikTok influencers, a ban would shake things up. 

Dads are getting a mixed bag of (slightly) fewer gifts for Father’s Day this year. Much like we saw before Mother’s Day, people are planning to cut back on gifts for Dad, except Gen Z because they’re awesome. Things do look better than last year, as the gap between those spending less and spending more shrunk from 12% to 9%. Unlike Mother’s Day, however, where we see less variety in gift-giving (food and flowers), the most popular gifts for Dad are all over the place – with ‘Other’ dominating the answers. Don’t worry. We’ll pretend to like it no matter what.   

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™ :

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Extravagant, no. Generous, yes; None of your business but the results are interesting; Blessed beyond words; Sometimes, only temporarily; Of course not, but it helps; 6.5 out of 10.

Hoping you’re well.


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