Just got back from a phenomenal trip to Austin. I saw six bands in two nights (including a private gig at ACL by the Doobie Brothers, who I can’t imagine were any better 40 years ago, even sans Mike McDonald). My blood-barbecue-content is way over the legal limit.
We were there for a high-end market research conference, which was way more enthralling than it sounds. Bob Gruters from Facebook and I did a fireside chat about our work together. Astro Teller from Google X gave the most riveting keynote speech ever.
Side-note 1: I’ve decided I need glasses or Lasik, on account of all the people I probably creeped out from staring awkwardly at their chests to read their nametag. There has to be a better way.
Anyway, there were about 300 people. 10% were CEOs of companies you know. Everyone had some kind of lofty title. And it was diverse. I met execs from auto parts stores to Fruit of the Loom to the guy who invented the InstaPot. I think they said 20 industries were represented.
Side-note 2: I talked to a bunch of new people who apparently read this thing. Two of them identified me as “The guy with the made-up friend.” Nice to meet you all.
The ethos of the event was people learning about trends in industries other than their own. That’s the hallmark of successful leaders today. If all you do is pour over data about your business, your competitors, or your industry – you’re clueless. The health insurance industry is impacting your company in some way. So is auto. And banking. And fashion. Obviously, tech.
Everything is affecting everything and if you aren’t trying to understand that, you’re going to lose. I guarantee it.
Here’s a bunch of all-over-the-map things we’re seeing right now:
The consumer confidence rollercoaster climbed over the past two weeks. Our Economic Sentiment Index had its second consecutive decent reading, though still well below the high point we saw in February. Steep improvements in the outlook for the U.S. economy and the job market overcame subtle declines related to the housing market and personal finances. It’s a big mixed bag at the moment. Your guess is as good as mine where it’s all heading.
In-store retail apps may not solve any real problems. Lots of brick-and-mortar retailers are developing mobile apps that serve as “shopping companions,” in hopes that they will bring more people – particularly Millennials – in the door. Makes sense. Here’s the problem: The type of person who would use an app like that already way over-indexes as an online shopper and, even worse, a show-roomer (ie. they go to the store to see a product, then buy it later on Amazon). Gen Xers are using in-store apps more than Millennials – presumably because they were already shopping more in those physical stores in the first place. Maybe these kinds of apps are a necessary box every retailer has to check. But they’re no silver bullet.
Good news! Americans are losing weight and spending less time on their mobile devices! Also, people are overweight, screen-addicted lying liars. Check out the two charts below – or cover your eyes if you scare easily. On roughly the same timeline (call it late 2016, feel free to guess why), the percentage of people WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES overweight and/or addicted to their devices has been in steady, steep decline. And they’re not the only things like this we see. What’s causing this magical improvement in public health? Delusion, tribalism, politics, and everything in between, that’s what. America may be forging a new era of normalization, driven by the growing culture of us-versus-them, at-least-I’m-not-as-bad-as-
In less meaningful news, we studied that whole Yanny vs. Laurel phenomenon. And the findings were more fascinating than I expected. People are almost precisely-evenly divided in what they hear, though there were noticeable skews based on age, region, and more.
And in even less meaningful news than that, we’re studying the royal wedding too. I only mention it because I was surprised about something. I assumed America would eventually outgrow its obsession with foreign faux royalty. But no, members of the Gen Z cohort are following the wedding more than twice as much as the next group (Boomers). The royal zeitgeist seems to have leapfrogged Xers and Millennials. Count me among them.
Sports wagering is a small portion of America’s gambling fetish, at least until now. The SCOTUS ruling this week has casinos, daily fantasy apps, and state treasuries salivating. But historically, sports betting has been among the least popular forms of gambling among U.S. adults. Lottery tickets are more popular than all other forms of gambling combined. These numbers are admittedly a few years old, but I reran the question today to see how much it has changed. It will be more interesting to see if/how they change a year from now.
Your Random (Band) Stats of the Week
20% of people have at some point been in a band, 2% are in one now
9% of people say it’s never okay to wear the band’s shirt to their show
25% of people have had to pretend to like a friend’s band
43% of people have one band that they consider their all-time favorite
Best Allman Brothers Song: Ramblin’ Man (43%), Midnight Rider (31%), Jessica (8%), Blue Sky (5%), Other (13%)
Whoever wrote that Allman question forgot Melissa, my favorite.