Mark Dolliver’s Takes

the global favorite: Free Time Is Nice, But Money Is Nicer Still
When people say they don’t have enough free time, there’s an element of self-flattery to the complaint. It implies that (a) they’re important people whose presence is constantly in demand and (b) they’d have no end of interesting uses for the free time they haven’t got. By contrast, people sound like losers–gauche losers, at that–when they complain about not having enough money. Still, if given a choice between more money and more free time, which would people actually prefer? A global survey by Roper Starch Worldwide found respondents in most countries would take the cash. Indeed, anyone who thinks enthusiasm for money is a peculiarly American taste should note that its appeal is transcultural. While Americans opted for money over time by a margin of 57 percent to 37 percent, pro-money majorities were larger in places ranging from Russia (71 percent) to France (63 percent) to Argentina (62 percent) to Taiwan (60 percent). Of the world’s wealthy countries, Australia (polled just in urban areas) was the only one where time (50 percent) was more popular than money (45 percent). Time also outpointed money in several of the survey’s nonrich countries, where the survey sample was restricted to “urban populations without lowest income groups.” In India, for example, 66 percent opted for more free time and 31 percent preferred more money. In its analysis of the data, Roper Starch notes that money “may ultimately buy us more time or more freedom in how we use our time.” Or as an economist might say, money is the more flexible currency of the two. It can be stored up. But if you don’t have a bright idea about how to spend the hour from 8:00 to 9:00 this evening, it’s gone forever. The paradox is that free time becomes more valuable when one has more money and, hence, more ways of enjoying the time.

an opinionated watch? Meet Today’s Techno-Brits
It’s always convenient when people live up to stereotype. In that spirit, we welcome a MORI poll’s finding that Britishers are inseparable from their mobile phones. Conducted for Motorola, the poll asked people to name the technology they couldn’t do without. Mobile phones won the most mentions (20 percent), followed by desktop computers (18 percent) and e-mail (7 percent). On the topic of communications, 72 percent of respondents said they want to be able to contact family members at all times; 11 percent wanted to be able to reach their “employer/colleague” at all times. Surprisingly, almost as many like to be ever-reachable, with 69 percent wanting the family and 9 percent wanting an employer/colleague to be able to contact them. As the chart indicates, the poll’s respondents had mixed feelings about the Diagnostic Dress and other futuristic technologies.

upswinging: Adding Up Adweek’s Classified Ads for Jobs
The market for jobs in advertising, media and marketing continues to thrive, judging by the volume of help-wanted classifieds running in Adweek. While the stock market has mixed feelings these days about the Internet, dot-com-related jobs continue to boost the employment market. Time will tell if employers start to get the jitters as well. The chart’s year-to-year gains are particularly striking in light of the fact that May 1999 wasn’t a dreadful month. (Not a great one, but not dreadful.) The West, which has been the powerhouse in this year’s data, was the laggard (relatively speaking) last month. Nevertheless, the U.S. total still managed to surge ahead by 30 percent. The Midwest, which got off to a tepid start in 2000, has heated up nicely.

feathering nests: Get Out of Your Recliner And Go Buy Another One
Let’s hope Americans have good taste in furniture these days, because lots of them intend to buy some in the near future. In a survey commissioned by TC Advertising of Baltimore, 22 percent of adults said they plan to spend $500-plus on furniture in the next 12 months. In a breakdown by age, 24-35-year-olds were a shade more likely than 36-54-year-olds (29 percent versus 28 percent) to foresee making such purchases. Twenty-one percent of all those polled expect to buy small appliances in the next 12 months, with the figure rising to 27 percent among the 18-23-year-olds. As for bedding, 24-35s were the age group most likely to be in the market (25 percent, versus 19 percent of all adults). And they also had the highest percentage of people expecting to buy housewares in the next 12 months (40 percent, versus 27 percent of all adults). One further info-tidbit: While consumers age 70 and older are less likely than young folks to be accumulating stuff for the home, their shopping days are not entirely behind them. Five percent said they’ll be making furniture purchases in the $500-plus range, and twice that many are in the market for housewares.

the joys of e-commerce: And You Needn’t Eat Lunch At the Mall’s Food Court
Here’s a sign Internet commerce is gaining momentum. Among people who first went online a year or two ago, 39 percent began buying via the Internet within that period. Among those who first went online within the past year, 68 percent already have bought something through the Internet. The findings come from polling conducted for Parade magazine. The chart below shows the hierarchy of motivations behind online shoppers’ embrace of e-commerce. As you can see, convenience is paramount, while the sales-tax factor lags well down the list. Are Gen Xers and Yers leading the online-buying charge? Not according to the survey, which says baby boomers constitute “the mainstream of consumer e-commerce.” What matters most in a retailer’s Web site? “Quality guarantee” and “Easy to find what I want” topped the list, each cited by 88 percent of online shoppers. “Offers low prices” and “Good return policy” ranked close behind. Thus far, online shoppers have confined their buying to a limited number of venues: Six in 10 said they’ve made purchases from four or fewer Web sites.

mixed blessings: The Acquisitive Impulse, Other-Than-White Goods, When Sports Collide, Etc.
Women aren’t more impulsive than men in all respects. But they are when it comes to buying things. As summarized by USA Weekend, a study by a pair of academics (based on polling in Iowa) found 36 percent of women saying they buy things they don’t need, versus 18 percent of men. Bargains are a stronger lure for women. Five percent of men “can’t resist a sale,” compared to
24 percent of women. And while 19 percent of men “shop to celebrate,” 31 percent of women said they do so.

For the model in the photo, it must be one of those good-news, bad-news situations. He gets to have his face in an ad for a science museum in San Francisco; but a zipper appears to have been installed in his head. The idea is to publicize an exhibit about the study of the human body in various eras. Zuckerman Fernandes & Partners of San Francisco created the piece.

You know the world’s becoming a more colorful place when “white goods” aren’t necessarily white. In April, notes a report by The NPD Group, more than one-third of refrigerators purchased were nonwhite. Almond was the runner-up to white, with 14 percent of the month’s fridge sales, though NPD suggests almondmania already has peaked. Black was popular as well, accounting for 13 percent of sales, while a shade variously known as bisque and biscuit garnered
7.5 percent. Stainless-steel fridges accounted for a mere 1.3 percent of unit sales. But since they command a premium price, they took 5.1 percent of the month’s retail dollars.

First the designated-hitter rule, then interleague play, now a female tennis player at the plate and a net stretched across the infield. If traditionalist baseball fans are more dismayed than amused by a fanciful ad for ESPN2, one can scarcely blame them. Tennis fans, on the other hand, will enjoy the notion that their fast-paced sport would enliven poky old baseball for today’s cable viewers. Created by Ground Zero of Marina Del Rey, Calif., the campaign also includes a football-meets-hockey combination. Now that’s a promising sport.

This item should provide some comfort to those who fret about the nation’s low savings rate. A poll conducted on the women.com Web site finds some Americans are saving on the sly. Asked whether they covertly save money “just for yourself,” 36 percent of respondents said they “keep some cash in a cookie jar for little indulgences.” On a grander scale, 14 percent admitted they put money into a savings account “I keep secret from my partner.” Still, 50 percent seemed appalled by the idea of a surreptitious stash, insisting they would “never set aside separate money.”

Is a genealogical-travel trend in the making? A survey by Maritz Marketing Research finds 60 percent of respondents saying they’re interested in learning more about their family history. Of these, 37 percent have “traveled to an ancestral hometown or country.” Twenty-nine percent have sought genealogical information via the Internet.
It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes. Now, a poster for a Minnesota amusement park suggests there may not be many on the park’s vertiginous thrill ride, either. (Like a Nasdaq stock, it shoots you up
30 stories and plunges you back down.) Another poster in the Power Tower series promises, “Satisfaction guaranteed. (Or your stomach back.)” Still another vows, “You’ll laugh. You’ll scream. Well, maybe just scream.” Peterson Milla Hooks of Minneapolis is the agency behind the ads