We're not ready to nominate them as Niche Market of the Decade, but the growth in their numbers is impressive. As a recent op-ed piece in The Washington Post noted, the record-high incarceration rate of the '90s means record numbers of ex-convicts are now rejoining the outside world. The writer cites an estimate that some 585,000ex-cons got out of prison last year and 600,000 will do so this year. Public officials look at these numbers and worry that crime rates could rise again. Some marketers will look at them and figure out ways to profit from this no-longer-captive audience.
The trouble with lotteries is that someone else always wins. A clever marketing ploy for an employment Web site takes that insight as its point of departure. The site handed out what look like ordinary Lotto tickets. When you scratch off the silvery part of the ticket, though, it reveals a message suggesting that if you want more money, "Maybe you should look for a better job." The text ends with the Web address for thingamajob.com. Eisner Communications of Baltimore created the piece.
They probably wouldn't turn down a million bucks if you offered it to them. But a study of 12-24-year-olds by The Zandl Group finds just half of the young folks would consider themselves "rich" if they had that amount of money. For one-fourth of respondents, $100 million would be the minimum.
Can pro sports franchises be persuaded to drop team names that many American Indians find offensive? An ad by New York-based DeVito/Verdi gives it a try in an ad that extrapolates from the real Cleveland Indians to the fictitious New York Jews and San Francisco Chinamen. Given the way people subvert stereotypes by mocking them, the irony here is that the caps for the two nonexistent teams would probably sell briskly.
Here's an item for your bad-social-trends file. A recent story in Newsweek describes a steep rise in divorce among senior citizens. Among the factors behind this trend is the increase in longevity. "More years to live means more time for couples to grow tired of one another," says the magazine. Some marriages are undone by the "dislocations of retirement"—a move to a new state, an end to the routine of going to a job, etc. It wasn't an issue when people worked until they keeled over. Now, wives discover they can't stand having their retired husbands around the house all day long for years on end. The relative prosperity of today's seniors also means they're more able to afford a split than was once the case.
If you like sausages, 2000 was your year. Looking back at the food trends of 2000, January's Bon Appétit anoints sausages as Ingredient of the Year—not to be confused with Dish of the Year, which was grilled sea bass. If sausages appealed to foodies' inner carnivore, their popularity didn't prevent meatless main courses from emerging as Food Trend of the Year. Among other culinary highlights of 2000 were molten chocolate cake as Dessert of the Year, Cuban food as Cuisine of the Year and focaccia as Bread of the Year.
Americans may have their shortcomings, but unwashed clothing generally isn't one of them. When a Rasmussen Research poll asked people how many loads of laundry they do in a typical week, just 15 percent answered "none." At the other, cleaner end of the spectrum were the 15 percent who wash eight loads or more per week and the 14 percent who put in six or seven loads. Another 26 percent said they wash four or five loads a week, while 29 percent get by with one to three loads. Given the amount of laundering people do, it makes sense that 65 percent of respondents put "reliability" atop the list when asked to cite the most important factor in shopping for a washing machine. Price ran a distant second (cited by 13 percent), followed by "low operating costs" (9 percent).
Honors this week for Best Effort to Liven Coffin Marketing go to a campaign for Bert and Bud's Vintage Coffins. The ad's copy seems aimed at people who feel that dying well is the best revenge. "A funeral is your last chance to leave an enduring impression and possibly an emotional scar or two." You've got to admit, it's more unique than most unique selling propositions. Another ad in the series (created by Atlanta-based MRA) makes the case for choosing your own coffin before you need it: "You only get one shot at this death thing. Don't let your friends and family screw it up."