It’s 78 degrees in Pittsburgh as I’m starting to draft this email. 78 degrees. In February. In Pittsburgh. I, for one, love it. But I’m also not an NHL executive who planned an outdoor hockey game in Pittsburgh this weekend – or a ski resort owner. Yikes.
Here are a few of the more interesting things we saw at CivicScience this week:
Consumer confidence rebounded slightly over the past two weeks, though still short of its high point in mid-January. I think we may have to get used to this kind of volatility, so long as the political environment is in its current state. Consumers are paying attention to the news at heightened levels and reacting – or over-reacting – to almost everything. It’s worth calling out that confidence in the job market has continued to slide, even while other metrics rose.
As for personal consumer confidence, you should praise your children and grandchildren as much as you can. There’s been a lot of debate in psychology circles lately over whether excessive praise – versus tough love – is best for child development. Our research is definitive in the pro-praise direction. Adults who reported high levels of praise from their own parents are more likely to be gainfully employed, healthy, and happy as adults. I don’t know why anyone would find this shocking. Don’t be an asshole to your kids. Plenty of other people will be.
Starbucks favorability numbers have taken a big hit over the past couple months. See for yourself in the handy chart below. It’s hard not to attribute this to the company’s much-publicized response to the Trump immigration ban. The fact that nearly all of the favorability declines came from Republicans makes it fairly clear. A possible saving grace for Starbucks is that Republicans are much less likely to eat/drink there anyway, so perhaps this won’t show up in their sales numbers. But I wouldn’t count on it.
On their big weekends, NASCAR and the Oscars are both at a crossroads. Heading into Sunday’s Daytona 500, the Wall St. Journal painted a horrific picture of the state of NASCAR. We started to see these cracks – owed largely to demography – as far back as 2014. The Oscars telecast is facing an equally daunting downward trend. 80% of U.S. adults have no interest in watching this year, compared to 52% who said the same just three years ago. My friend and writing hero, Bob Lefsetz, makes a convincing case that the movie industry has lost touch with its audience. Ironically, the NASCAR fan and the Oscars fan are about as different as two populations can be. Declining enthusiasm might be the only thing they have in common.
Have a great weekend, no matter what you watch.