What a week.
It started last weekend, before many of you even read my last rant. We had our first major family reunion in over 5 years. Suffice it to say, it was the largest and most raucous gathering of Dicks since January 6th. One major highlight is that my second cousin got married and was finally able to change her maiden name…to Cox. You can’t make this stuff up.
The Dick jamboree was only the beginning. Maddie is starring in her first professional musical as an adult this week, playing the oldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in The Sound of Music, alongside a cast of touring Broadway vets. In the end, it will be 8 shows in 6 days, seen by no fewer than 11 of our out-of-town houseguests, half of whom spilled into an Airbnb we rented for the week.
An amazing coincidence and full-circle kind of thing, it’s the first time Sound of Music came through Pittsburgh in 12 years. I know that because Maddie was all of 6 when auditions for the little von Trapps were last held here and she was cast as the youngest, Gretl. We were deer in the headlights back then, having no idea it would kick off a newfound life of performances, lessons, classes, camps, auditions, and college applications.
Tomorrow, I drive out and back to New York City to drop off Noelle at a two-week media and journalism camp at the School of the New York Times Summer Academy. She’ll be visiting newsrooms, writing, and hobnobbing with reporters, editors, and execs, while immersing herself in the perpetual smell of weed on the Manhattan sidewalks – all good training for college in a couple years. If any of you news-industry readers happen to meet her, PLEASE say hello. It will embarrass the ever-loving shit out of her.
In the midst of all that, something I’ve been working on nonstop since February is finally culminating. I can’t tell you about it yet, but I will. Then you’ll know how crazy my past couple of weeks have actually been.
None of this is meant to complain. “Busy” is arguably the most eye-roll-y answer ever to “How are things?” Yeah, I get it, we all are.
Still, I’m going to sleep like a champ Sunday night. Until the busyness starts over again.
On the bright side, we still have half of the summer left to go.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Prime Day was huge. Count me (and my kids) among the millions of people who took our laptops deal-hunting this week. Upwards of 40% of U.S. adults reported having participated in the two-day event (a 25% jump from 2022), and 41% of those people said they spent more than they did last year (versus 28% who said they spent less). Electronics and home goods were the top sellers, but leisure categories like sports and outdoors fared well too. Notably, however, there was a ton of crossover between Prime Day shopping and other retailer events (Target, Walmart, etc). If you missed our webinar on Thursday showing off our industry-best speed and real-time-ness, shame on you. But you can find it here.
Secondary education is barreling toward a crisis in America. In our latest tracking data about college intent and perspective among younger Americans, the numbers are bleak. Interest in all manner of post-high school education programs is down significantly over last year. Meanwhile, 74% of the U.S. Gen Pop now say they do NOT believe having a college degree is an important factor that leads to a successful career. The number one reason behind the waning education enthusiasm? You already know the answer to that.
Meanwhile, ignore older Americans in your advertising at your own peril. While everyone obsesses over Gen Z (myself often included), we often forget that the 50+ crowd controls a massive amount of media attention, investment, and spending – particularly in mega-industries like financial services, healthcare, travel, and many others. That “being forgotten” isn’t lost on our graying fellow Americans either. In a wonderful report we published in partnership with ROAR Forward, a thought-leadership platform focused on 50+ Americans (and helmed by former Hearst legend Michael Clinton), we found that the group feels notably underrepresented in advertising today – and it has a meaningful impact on their willingness to buy from brands whose marketing ignores them. Take note.
Another group that needs all the advertising love you can spare is our fast-growing (and super-active) Hispanic-American brothers and sisters. And in addition to being hyper-attentive viewers of news and entertainment, they’re incredibly prolific users of social media. In our latest tracking data, we see that Hispanic Americans over-index as users of every major social media platform, with the exception of Facebook. But don’t worry, Meta; they’re nearly 50% more likely than non-Hispanics to use Instagram. The relevancy doesn’t end there either. They’re also much more likely than non-Hispanics to start the shopping search somewhere other than Amazon – particularly TikTok.
That said, daily social media usage has declined dramatically as we reach the middle of summer. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we saw a huge drop in daily (reported) usage of social media since the beginning of July. It’s stark enough to wonder if it’s just a blip or the beginning of a trend (or at least until the weather turns). We also examined which streaming platform users were most often chafed by their favorite shows being removed (below) and looked at the roughly one-third of Americans who changed – or are considering changing – summer travel plans due to the Canadian wildfire.
More awesomeness from the InsightStore™ this week:
- Target, Lululemon, and other brands are super popular among users of Instagram Threads;
- Nostalgia is still a huge driver of spending right now, but what people say isn’t exactly in line with what they actually do;
- Our Q2 Trend Adoption Tracker came out – and smart home security cameras are still killing it (P.S. we’re in the process of overhauling this report, so if there’s anything you watch particularly closely, let me know);
- Here are 5 non-obvious insights about frequent movie theater-goers.
The most popular questions this week:
- How often do you and your partner argue about housework?
- Do you prefer your butter to be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator?
- How savory or sweet is your snack palate?
- How likely, if at all, is it that you would participate in a hunt for buried treasure?
- Do you personally know anyone who has launched a successful business as a side hustle?
- Would you keep a rescued raccoon as a pet?
Answer Key: Seldom with each other, but the kids are another story; Fridge; Very savory; Hell yes; Nope – you have to go all-in; Dear God, no.
Hoping you’re well.