I’m done using the word “tribalism.” It won’t be easy. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t mention it in this email. I say it 100X more in speeches, client meetings, and daily life. It’s everywhere, affecting everything.
It hasn’t reached the echelon of over-worn-buzzword yet but it’s getting there. That’s not what bothers me.
What’s unsettling is how the t-word has become a catch-all rationalization for the worst of our behavior. It’s the Voldemort – the trend-that-shall-not-be-named – of today’s socio-political-economic-
Last week, the Catholic League authored a statement to “debunk” the report of systemic child abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. Among their key arguments? That most of “the youngsters” weren’t, in fact, raped because “rape” requires actual penetration to occur. Also – which the Catholic League called “the greatest lie of them all” – that many of the priests weren’t pedophiles because “pedophilia” requires that the victim is prepubescent. Who knew?
For starters, who still uses the word youngsters? Golly-gee, Mrs. Cleaver. That alone disqualifies them from having a valid viewpoint on the world. The Catholic League can go to hell.
More horrifying is the fact that so many people – even media types – seized and shared the CL’s statement. It provided the drop of acrylic they needed to paint the mainstream media as biased and politically-motivated. It didn’t matter what they were arguing FOR, only who they were arguing AGAINST. Your tribe can never be 100% right. My tribe can never be 100% wrong.
Welcome to America 2018.
It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about my team winning and your team losing. Some days they play offense, other days they play defense. No blood, no foul. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. [Insert sports metaphor here.]
So, goodbye, t-word. Be gone from our vocabulary. The more we say it, the more we validate it. Let’s call it what it is – moral and intellectual relativism, driven by our desire to beat the other team at any cost. It sucks.
And it’s not how we’re supposed to be.
Climbs down from soapbox…
Here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Consumer confidence has been eerily stable over the past six weeks. I’m so used to seeing our index bounce all over the place from one reading to the next; but this recent run of same-ness almost feels ominous, like everyone is just waiting for the next unexpected twist. Even our three-day average has barely budged – at least until Tuesday (i.e. Michael Cohen Bombshell Day). Maybe that was the inevitable twist. Or maybe it won’t mean a damn thing.
The ripple effects of the NFL’s declining fanbase will hit the fantasy football market this year. This always seemed like a “when” not an “if” question. And now we know. The composition of fantasy sports players in our database has been changing, with fewer and fewer NFL fans among the segment. For sure, there is still a huge population of rabid NFL fans and fantasy football nuts – count me among them. But it definitely feels like we’re on the downward side of the mountain.
As Millennials move further into adulthood, it could shake up the airline and OTA industries. Check out the chart below. Over the past two years, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in airline brand-centricity and a decline in price centricity among 18-to-34-year-old Americans. The rising tides of consumer confidence had a lot to do with it but Millennials are far-outpacing the rest of the population. As they travel more often, travel for business, or travel with kids, they are placing a higher value on the airline they choose. This could have a big impact not only on which airlines these Millennials fly but where they buy their tickets. Expedia and Kayak, beware.
You can tell a lot about somebody based on which Emmy-nominated TV shows they watch. As part of a bigger research projectwe’re doing, we delved into some of the more predictive characteristics of audiences for the biggest shows on TV right now, from GoT toSNL. A few worthy findings: Rich people watch The Crown, music-lovers watch SNL, and people who are in therapy watch This Is Us. Social outcasts – like me, apparently – don’t watch any of them.
Men are more decisive than women but also more likely to doubt the decisions they’ve made. This is one of the most interesting pieces of research I’ve seen from our team in recent memory. We analyzed how different types of people make and reevaluate their decisions, and the insights were fascinating (behold, the half-million-person sample size). Among many thought-provoking nuggets, Millennials are much less likely than prior generations to be resolute in their decisions. Fear of better options or FOBO, per the cool kids, has a major influence on their psyche. But it also contributes to significantly higher rates of stress. Women, meanwhile, are more likely to stress about a decision they have to make but much quicker to move on once they’ve made it. I wish…
Ending things on a positive note, the percentage of Americans who report carrying some form of debt has been declining since 2017. It’s only a 3% drop, but it’s non-trivial for something that has otherwise barely moved since we started tracking it. Gen Xers, those with a college degree, and parents are the most likely to have debt. Credit card debt is the most common, followed by mortgage loans, auto loans, student loans, and home equity. But it appears that at least some Americans are using their tax refunds and economic tailwinds to climb out of debt altogether.
Some of Our Most Responded-To Questions of the Past Few Weeks
Many of you have told me how much you enjoy these, so I’ll make sure they’re part of the rotation. Here are the latest ones (just click to answer them and see the results):
Have fun with those!
Hoping you’re well.