If you call visiting your mom and your mother-in-law, who live two blocks from one another but aren’t on speaking terms and spend most of their time complaining about the other – a “vacation” – then I had a nice vacation. Thanks for asking.
I came back to Pittsburgh to find all sorts of interesting new research on my desk. Here’s only a sample of what we’re seeing right now.
Consumer Confidence rebounded slightly over the past two weeks – merely continuing the unprecedented ups-and-downs of the past few months. What’s interesting about this reading, however, is the paradoxical nature of it. People are showing decreased confidence in the broader U.S. economy while, at the same time, expressing an increased willingness to spend money, particularly on major purchases. There will be a reckoning of those conflicting views at some point, we just don’t know when or how.
There may not be many (or any?) Millennials on this distribution list but, if there were, they would have been much more interested in that last paragraph than they were two years ago. Huh? In short, our tracking data tell us that the percentage of Millennials who say they are following financial and economic news has more than doubled over the past 8 quarters. Funny how a ton of student debt and a mortgage can turn your attention away from YouTube. 
In the Every-Action-Has-An-Equal-And-Opposite-Reaction Department, the number of Baby Boomers who watch daily videos on YouTube has grown significantly during the same period. Younger Boomers, namely those aged 55-64, who watch YouTube on a daily basis have nearly doubled since 2015, while the percentage of Millennials who watch daily has grown by just 5%. I don’t need to explain the implications of that. Use your imagination. 
Take a big swig of your coffee so you can focus on these last two points, because they’re really important….
The auto industry – new, used, and rental – is in for one hell of a ride in the coming months. If you follow business news, you’re probably aware of the huge glut of used cars hitting the consumer market and the implications that has on pricing (and rental car company stocks). But our data tell us that these depressed used car prices are no secret to consumers either. The percentage of active car shoppers who say they plan to buy NEW has dropped from 37% in Q1 of 2016 to just 27% in Q1 of 2017. Yikes.
Millennials (yeah, I know, I’m tired of talking about them too) are becoming less and less loyal to their favorite brands. Unlike Baby Boomers, where 90% claim to be at least “somewhat loyal” to brands, the rate among Millennials dropped from 84% to just 78% since 2014. Realize there is a big difference between being brand-conscious and brand-loyal. Millennials are most certainly still brand-conscious. They’re just increasingly attracted to new things and quick to abandon brands they once loved. So, don’t rest on your laurels. And quit thinking that some brand loyalty study you did six months ago matters one iota today.
Okay, that’s more than I like to make you read on a typical Saturday. My bad. I was on vacation. Or whatever you want to call it.
Hoping you’re well,