A New Gay Standard, Cinema Absentees, Etc.

A few mainstream advertisers have used gay couples in their ads in recent years. Now, all of a sudden, they can use gay married couples if they choose. Discretion being the better part of valor, most such companies will prefer to dodge the marital issue. Precisely because these advertisers have made their gay-friendliness a selling point, though, one wonders whether their gay constituency will be satisfied with benign ambiguity. Like political figures, they may find themselves under pressure to take sides. Perhaps an advertiser could finesse the matter by being the first to feature a divorced gay couple.

The nation’s housing boom still has some oomph, judging by an Ipsos-Insight poll fielded last month. Twelve percent of adults said they plan to buy a home during 2004. If they do so, it’ll put this year’s sales nearly on a par with 2003’s record pace. Among those in the market, 43 percent expect to buy a newly constructed home. Buyers will be split almost evenly between those who already own a home and those who don’t. The survey also indicates that mortgage refinancing hasn’t run its course: 9 percent of homeowners plan to refinance this year, adding to the 36 percent who’ve done so in the past three years.

You hadn’t seen any of the movies that won Oscars? You’re not alone. According to Gallup data, 31 percent of adults didn’t see even one movie in a theater during 2003. That figure is in sync with Gallup findings during the past decade. The significant shift detected by the poll was in the number of people who’d seen five or more movies at a theater in the previous 12 months. This figure sank to 24 percent from 36 percent a year earlier. Playing true to Hollywood stereotype, 18- to 29-year-olds were more likely than their elders to be frequent moviegoers, with people in that cohort seeing an average of 7.4 films at a theater during 2003. Those 65-plus saw the fewest movies on average (2.0). Perhaps because they’re less in need of babysitters, the 50-64s went to the movies slightly more often than the 30-49s (5.0 times vs. 4.8).

When you shop in a store the size of a football stadium, even the economy-size version of a product must look small. No doubt marketers will adjust their packages accordingly as mega-retailers claim a growing share of retail sales. A survey by WSL Strategic Retail finds 63 percent of women shopped in a “supercenter” in the past 90 days, vs. 32 percent in 2000. Warehouse clubs also are pulling women in, with 52 percent saying they shopped in one in the past 90 days, vs. 35 percent in 2000. With consumer confidence still fragile, price is crucial. In polling of women and men, 66 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “It’s important to me to get the lowest price on most things I buy”; 59 percent said, “Before I buy something now, I stop to ask myself, ‘Is this a smart use of my money?’ ” Of course, marketers can take comfort in knowing that consumers have astounding notions of what constitutes a “smart use” of their money.

In a word-association game, “bowling” might not be the term you’d come up with after hearing “bar-mitzvah.” But an ad from Baltimore’s Eisner Communications is out to change that. (Feel free to insert your own joke here about how it’s an unorthodox approach.) As the copy remarks, “You haven’t lived until you’ve done the horah in bowling shoes.”

Loyalty is its own reward, evidently, for many consumers. According to a Maritz survey, “Almost 40 percent of consumers have never redeemed rewards earned for retail programs they have been enrolled in the longest.” That’s nearly twice the number of people who once participated in a retailer’s rewards program but have dropped out.

Jack Sprat lives! In a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we learn that men cut their average daily intake of fat between 1971 and 2000 by 5.3 grams. In the same period, women increased their intake by 6.5 grams. Both sexes boosted their intake of carbs, with men’s average increase (67.7 grams) surpassing women’s (62.4 grams).