Fear Of Cybercrooks, Belief Vs. Unbelief, Etc.

Walking down a dark alley is nothing. What really makes Americans jittery is walking down a dark e-commerce site. People who think they’ll be victims of cybercrime in the next 12 months outnumber by three to one those who expect to be victims of physical crime, finds a survey commissioned by IBM. Six percent of respondents claim to have been victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months. Motivated by fears of such a fate, 37 percent won’t provide credit card information online, and 38 percent won’t bank online. During the past 12 months, 27 percent have stopped buying from unfamiliar retailers, while 18 percent have stopped paying bills online.

No wonder product launches are often for naught. In a poll by Schneider Associates and Stagnito Communications, 57 percent of respondents couldn’t recall even one product that was launched last year. It can’t help that many new products are so inconsequential. Even the new products with the highest recall scores don’t exactly rival the introduction of the wheel. The five atop the poll’s standings: Microsoft’s Xbox 360a, McDonald’s Fruit & Walnut Salad, Coca-Cola Zero, the Hummer H3 and Coca-Cola with Lime.

Some advertising is blunt. Ads for fishing hooks, by contrast, need to be sharp. A campaign for Lazer Sharp, a line of replacement hooks for fishing lures, meets this requirement quite nicely. The paper of in-store posters was sliced to stress how sharp the hooks themselves are. In the ad seen at lower left, the cut takes the zig-zag course a wounded little fish would follow as it attracts the attention of a hungry walleye, muskie or striper. Blattner Brunner of Pittsburgh created the series for Island Firearms & Tackle of Neville Island, Pa.

A man spending less than $135.67 on his sweetheart for Valentine’s Day shouldn’t let her read this item. That’s the average amount men plan to spend (for cards, flowers, candy, etc.) on their significant others this Feb. 14, according to a survey fielded by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. A woman planning to spend more than $68.64 on her fella that day should call the article to his attention, as he’ll see that she’s exceeding the average female expenditure for the occasion. Ardent though they may be, young lovers are comparative cheapskates when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Respondents in the 18-24 age bracket plan to spend an average of $81.89 this year, while those in the 45-54 cohort will shell out $128.78. As usual, cards are the item men and women are likeliest to buy, with 62 percent of respondents saying they’ll do so. Candy is the runner-up (47 percent), trailed by a night on the town (42 percent), flowers (33 percent) and jewelry (15 percent). Fewer men will buy flowers this year than last (52 percent vs. 58 percent), but more will purchase jewelry (22 percent vs. 18 percent).

When in doubt, buy a gift card. That’s how increasing numbers of consumers have solved their holiday shopping problems. But they still have to choose the retailer whose card they’ll buy—in effect, picking the category of gift the recipient will end up getting. What sort of gift cards do people most want? A poll by Opinion Research Corp. addressed that question to teenagers. A plurality of teens (30 percent) said they’d prefer to get a gift card for a clothing store. Lagging behind were cards for electronics stores (19 percent), music stores (16 percent), hobby or sports stores (15 percent), discount stores (9 percent) and bookstores (7 percent).

Want to haunt somebody? A Harris Poll indicates you’ll have better luck with a woman than with a man. Forty-six percent of women believe in ghosts, vs. 33 percent of men. In fact, women are more likely than men to believe in all sorts of things, including God (86 percent of women vs. 78 percent of men), miracles (79 percent vs. 66 percent), heaven (76 percent vs. 64 percent), angels (76 percent vs. 59 percent), the devil (66 percent vs. 55 percent) and astrology (30 percent vs. 19 percent). One noteworthy exception: Men were more likely than women (30 percent vs. 27 percent) to say they believe in witches. (It would have been nice to see a breakdown of responses by married vs. unmarried men on this one.) UFOs are also an exception: 38 percent of men believe in them, vs. 31 percent of women. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe in God (93 percent vs. 81 percent) and to credit such traditional tenets as the divinity of Jesus (82 percent vs. 68 percent) and the immortality of the soul (82 percent vs. 68 percent). But don’t say Democrats are unbelievers! They’re more inclined than Republicans to believe in UFOs (37 percent vs. 28 percent), astrology (28 percent vs. 21 percent) and reincarnation (22 percent vs. 18 percent).

Has pop culture’s endless exaltation of younger women broken the spirit of women who’ve have the bad taste to pass age 40? Apparently not, if a More magazine survey is any indication. As you can see from the chart here, women in the 40-60 age cohort tend to be pleasantly surprised at how well their looks have held up. (Of course, this might just mean they expected to look like holy hell once they reached 40, a notion they could easily have picked up from pop culture’s malign neglect of older women.) They seem to be in decent psychological shape as well, with 90 percent of them subscribing to the statement, “I control my own destiny,” and 94 percent saying, “I feel I have a lot to contribute to the world.”

Women overestimate how shallow men are. Granted, that’s not easily done, but a poll conducted for the Harlequin publishing company by International Communications Research indicates it happens. The survey dealt with first encounters between people and the romantic impulses that might arise. A majority of female respondents (76 percent) think men focus on whether a woman is physically attractive—”when, in fact, only 55 percent of men say physical attraction is what grabs them during a first encounter.” (So there!) Then again, men return the favor by overestimating female cheesiness. While 25 percent of male respondents said women are most attracted by a man’s money, “only 7 percent of women said financial status was a major turn-on.” As for turn-offs, “no sense of humor” gets slightly more mentions from women (61 percent) than “lack of intelligence” (59 percent). Better to be stupid but funny, it seems, than smart but humorless.