WHAT, MY WORRIES?: In Other Words, Women Are Becoming More Like Men
In the bad old days, worrying about money was a man’s job. Women weren’t in a position to make money, even if the family exchequer needed it. And they were too preoccupied with kids and kitchen to focus on finances in any case. Such, at least, was the popular assumption. Now we find the march of human progress has opened up a new realm of female worry. In a Gallup poll of women conducted for women.com, respondents were asked to name “the biggest challenge you personally face in your daily life today.” Money concerns won a plurality of the vote (26 percent). Family was the runner-up (22 percent), followed by health (15 percent), time and stress (14 percent), job and career (8 percent) and education (7 percent). Just 4 percent identified “equality and equal rights” as their paramount concern. Responses varied sharply with respondents’ own circumstances. For instance, 42 percent of stay-at-home mothers picked family as their foremost concern, versus 8 percent of working women without children at home. Oddly, though, the latter group was just marginally more likely than the former (10 percent versus 9 percent) to cite job and career as the top concern, and a bit less likely to do so than working mothers (12 percent). As you might guess, working mothers were the most likely to name time and stress as their main worry (22 percent). In a breakdown by age group, the 18-29-year-olds were a bit more likely than other cohorts to put money atop the list (30 percent did so). And they were markedly more likely than their elders to choose job and career as their top concern (16 percent, with the 40-49s the runners-up at 10 percent). The 30-39s were far more likely than other groups to cite time and stress (24 percent), and also had the highest incidence of those putting family atop the roll call of concerns (33 percent).
TAXES HERE AND THERE: Be Happy I Don’t Take It All
As tax day draws near (you didn’t forget, did you?), Americans will vent their displeasure with the whole business. They’re not alone in that respect, though. A global survey by the Angus Reid Group finds worse discontent among taxpayers in several other countries. In France, 89 percent said taxes are too high, as did 85 percent in Canada, 79 percent in Germany and 78 percent in Japan. By comparison (see chart), Americans don’t live up to their reputation as a bunch of tax-averse skinflints. Asked whether spending on public services should be reduced so taxes could be cut, 41 percent in the U.S. said “yes”; 40 percent thought spending should remain at current levels; 17 percent wanted higher public outlays even if their taxes would have to be raised. In the global totals, 43 percent wanted spending pared to accommodate tax cuts; 29 percent favored current levels of spending; 23 wanted higher outlays even if they’d need to pay more tax. If taxes were pared, 74 percent of Americans would want the cuts aimed at poorer people “to combat poverty”; 20 percent would target better-off taxpayers “to improve incentives.”
MIXED BLESSINGS: Wild Opinions About Pets, The Stained Mariners, Etc.
Oddball Factoid of the Week: 6 percent of respondents to a CNN.com poll answered “yes” when asked, “Should wild animals be kept as pets?” Another 7 percent tried (without great success, if you ask me) to stake out a moderate position by saying, “Yes, but never around children.” The rest tamely responded, “Never; they belong in the wild or in zoos.”
It’s a convention of advertising for high-brow institutions that the message be delivered in low-brow terms. A campaign for a coalition of cultural outfits in southeast Michigan abides by that tradition. In addition to saluting the chick-picking-up power of male ballet dancers, the series offers the obligatory praise of opera as “adultery, corruption and death” set to music. Doner of Southfield, Mich., created the campaign.
Unless Y2K revelers flung their drinks into the fireplace when 2000 arrived, it could be a slow year for sales of fancy glassware. A report by The NPD Group says consumers stocked up on crystal stemware and other glassware as New Year’s Eve approached. That helped push the category’s dollar totals up 22 percent for 1999–which, of course, sets the stage for lackluster sales this year. For the housewares sector as a whole, NPD found sales up 7 percent last year. Stainless steel cookware was one of the stronger niches, with dollar sales up 15 percent. Reflecting the casualization of life in general, department-store sales of sterling silver flatware fell by 19 percent.
What do veteran ballplayers chat about during spring training? Their laundry, of course. Emphasizing that the Seattle Mariners’ new stadium has real grass (unlike the domed monstrosity it replaced), a spot for team ticket sales mimics a sales pitch for detergent. It opens with a lament from slugger Edgar Martinez, who can’t get the real-grass stains off his uniform. First-baseman John Olerud holds up a box of new Power Burst 3. “It’s tough on stains, but it won’t harm delicate fabrics.” At the end, a happy Martinez declares his stain-free togs even smell “springtime fresh.” Copacino of Seattle created the campaign for the Mariners–and could end up with a soap-suds account, too, if it’s not careful.
Are busy parents distraught at how little time they get with their kids? Not all of them. A Parent Soup online poll found 58 percent of respondents “satisfied” with the amount of time they get with the youngsters. As for the 42 percent who aren’t satisfied, we can only guess how many feel they spend too much time with their offspring.
ON AND OFF THE SCALE: But Opening the Fridge Isn’t Considered a Workout
If only lying burned lots of calories. A poll by Maritz Marketing Research finds 55 percent of Americans claiming to work out on a regular basis. Given the pandemic obesity of the population in recent years, one can’t help wondering if all the poll’s respondents were telling the truth. One hears a stronger ring of truth in another of Maritz’s findings: “Although 50 percent of Americans own home exercise equipment, only 55 percent of them actually use it.” What motivates people to work out? Among those who do so, 9 percent aim to lose weight, and 13 percent want to hold their weight steady. But 63 percent exercise “simply to feel good, gain energy and/or stay healthy.” Women are more likely than men to exercise to lose weight (14 percent versus 4 percent). Maritz finds 59 percent of women and 77 percent of men claiming to be content with their weight. Still, 47 percent of women and 33 percent of men have tried to shed pounds in the past year.
CONFIDENT COLLEGIANS: And That First Million Is Said to Be the Hard One
How sad: 29 percent of college students and recent graduates believe they’ll never be millionaires. We can only hope they’ll find some meaning in life nonetheless. Meanwhile, the remaining 71 percent of respondents to a survey by Jobtrak.com feel the million is in the bag. In fact, 25 percent expect to see their first million before they turn 30; another 27 percent think it will come between the ages of 30 and 40. (Is it any wonder these young folks are comfortable about taking on debt as they await the arrival of that million?) A patient 13 percent anticipate reaching millionairehood between 40 and 50. By then, though, a million may seem like pocket change, so they’ll need to adjust their ambitions upward as they go along.
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