The Simple Life (Huh?), Offensive Or Not, Etc.

You’d never guess it from the amount of stuff they buy, but 82 percent of adults believe they “live a simple life.” That’s one of the findings from a poll by The Barna Group that asked people basic questions about their lives. Despite the claim of simplicity, 58 percent of respondents said they’re “into new technology.” Asked if they’re “clear about the meaning and purpose of your life,” 81 percent said they are, nearly matching the 83 percent who reported that they “feel at peace.” Still, 34 percent said they feel stressed out. How sure are the respondents of their opinions? Fifty-two percent said they’re “very convinced that I am right about things in life.”

Technological progress helps brands alienate consumers in all sorts of new ways. So we gather from a survey of tweens and teens by Harris Interactive, in collaboration with the University of Delaware’s business school. One question asked the kids how they like it when a company has its product appear in a video game. Though 13 percent of teens had a favorable reaction, 25 percent viewed the practice unfavorably. Tweens (ages 8-12) were more indulgent, with 27 percent pro and 22 percent con. How about when companies get people to blog about their wares? Fourteen percent of tweens and 10 percent of teens were favorable toward this, while 24 percent of tweens and 32 percent of teens reacted negatively. And when companies advertise their products via the kid’s cell phone? Five percent of tweens and 4 percent of teens favored this ploy, vs. 41 percent of tweens and 55 percent of teens disfavoring it.

You would expect young adults to be unoffendable, given the coarse pop culture in whose midst they’ve come of age. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll indicates otherwise, though. Respondents were asked whether they find various things offensive in movies, music and other genres of entertainment. Among 18-24-year-olds, 14 percent of men and 21 percent of women said they’re offended by sex and nudity. Fifteen percent of men and 21 percent of women said they’re offended by swearing in entertainment content. Gay/ lesbian content was deemed offensive by 34 percent of men and 26 percent of women. Women were more likely than men to say they’re offended by racial humor (39 percent vs. 25 percent) and by content disrespectful of women and girls (59 percent vs. 40 percent). By the way, women aren’t the only ones who look askance at “gross-out humor”: 15 percent of the men said they’re offended by it, as did 19 percent of the women.

While few people have much good to say for governmental response to Hurricane Katrina, a year-after poll finds a segment of the private sector faring better in public esteem. An Ipsos Public Affairs poll asked homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi to gauge the performance of their insurance companies. Among those in Louisiana who have homeowners insurance, 48 percent said they’re “very satisfied” and another 41 percent “satisfied” with their insurer. Seven percent were “dissatisfied” and 4 percent “very dissatisfied.” In Mississippi, 50 percent were very satisfied, 43 percent satisfied, 3 percent dissatisfied and 3 percent very dissatisfied.

Whatever their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for current TV shows, consumers are eager to own the latest TV sets. A report by The NPD Group finds nearly 40 percent of TV owners planning to buy a new set in the next 12 months, “with 15 percent leaning towards LCD and 12 percent towards plasma.” Three-fourths of prospective buyers want their next screen to be larger than their current one. At the same time, 27 percent want to be able to mount their new set on the wall, though the difficulties of doing so have deterred a majority of people who now own flat-screen TVs from pursuing that option.

Are small-business owners yearning to become captains of industry? Not all of them. A Rasmussen Reports survey, conducted for the Discover Card’s Small Business Watch, found 67 percent of business owners with five or fewer employees “are quite happy to have their companies remain small.” Many of them worked in big companies in the past and wouldn’t care to repeat the experience. Nor would they wish to work for anyone but themselves: 61 percent said they don’t expect to work for anyone else before they retire.

Having access to health insurance isn’t the same as having health insurance, as a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes clear. As of March, 71 percent of workers in private industry had access to employer-sponsored health coverage, but 52 percent were enrolled in such a program. Among full-time workers, 85 percent had access, but 64 percent were participating. The study found a smaller disparity between the number of workers with access to retirement benefits (60 percent) and the number enrolled in at least one type of retirement plan (51 percent).

Parents may feel their teenage kids are reluctant to eat much other than fast food and pizza. By their own telling, though, teens are open to all sorts of exotic fare. The chart below, drawing on the Roper Youth Report from GfK NOP, gives the details. The poll’s tween respondents (ages 8-12) were less likely to be adventurous. Even in this cohort, though, there were significant constituencies for Mexican/Spanish (60 percent), Italian (53 percent), Asian (19 percent) and Cajun/ spicy (18 percent) cuisines. Of course, none of this means that kids in the 8-17 age bracket are willing to consume the same foods as their parents at any give dinner time. Forty percent said that “of the dinners they eat at home, they frequently/occasionally eat an entirely different meal than their parents.”