STATE OF AMERICA
No Car, No Home, No Problem – We’ve already noted that Millennials don’t care about owning a car. While some say it’s a temporary side effect of the recession, others point to it as a permanent generational shift in tastes and spending habits. Just as car sales have plummeted among this age cohort, the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half of what it was just 10 years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study. While 9 out of 10 Millennials say they eventually want a place of their own, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey, this generation’s path to homeownership is fraught with obstacles: low pay, low savings and tighter lending standards from banks. Still, within the next decade, a group of people the size of California’s population will likely come together to form new households. The question is: where and in what manner? It seems that Millennials’ residential aspirations appear to be changing just as significantly as their driving habits. The old cul-de-sacs of Revolutionary Road and Desperate Housewives have fallen out of favor with Generation Y. Now, there is a rising preference for city centers and what some developers call urban light – denser suburbs with smaller, more affordable houses that revolve around a walkable town center. The largest generation in American history might never spend as lavishly as its parents did nor on the same things.
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Game Changers: Women Sports Fans – Millions of die-hard female fans are changing the face of pro sports in this country. Until recently, the best a female fan could hope for was a lone rack of too-tight bubble-gum-hued jerseys sidelined in a corner at concession stands, a strategy baseball marketers dubbed “shrink it and pink it.” Leagues have finally caught on that women have become crucial to the fan base. Some 67 million women count themselves baseball fans – that’s just over half of baseball’s audience. Other major league sports have enjoyed similar gains: 44% of football fans are women and 37% enjoy basketball. An estimated 43 million female viewers tuned in to the Super Bowl earlier this year, making it more popular than the Oscars. In recent years, the leagues have inked deals with the likes of Forever 21 and Victoria’s Secret, who hawk tees, leggings, and even underwear in team colors and emblazoned with team mascots. Among the NFL’s most popular products are nail polishes in team colors (think Raider’s black and silver). Licensed women’s apparel for baseball, basketball and football has become a huge business, generating $330 million last year, according to market research firm SportsOneSource. No longer bored and counting down the minutes till the seventh-inning stretch, women have claimed their own place on the couch, tossing back beer and chicken wings alongside their men, families or even other girlfriends while catching the game.
Hotels’ New Amenity: Professional Photographers –
The flight is booked, the hotel is reserved, the bags are packed, and the camera is charged and ready to go. But can you count your photo-taking skills to make you and your vacation breathtakingly gorgeous? If you can’t, there’s no need to worry because a growing number of hotels and resorts are offering sessions with professional photographers to chronicle guests’ vacations. Travelers want to record memorable moments without ruining them or stressing about the focus and flash. They want more sophisticated shots to share on social media as they realize that an iPhone may not catch that perfect surfing or skiing triumph. Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort in the Caribbean, said it came up with the “Together Package” because it’s employees were getting so many requests from guests to take their pictures. A need for professionals has also risen given the surge in multigenerational trips because it is often the only time an extended family is in the same place. A host of independent freelance wedding and adventure photographers are also starting to offer vacation travel shots, seeing them as a lucrative side business. Abercrombie & Kent, a luxury-travel outfitter, occasionally has clients who hire photographers for their entire vacations. Rob Veden, Manager at A&K, explains, “They just want to enjoy the destination without anyone in the family being responsible and having to worry about missing a shot or a memorable experience.
Viral Philanthropy – Bus monitor Karen Klein didn’t ask the world for sympathy, and she definitely didn’t request money. But once Internet users watched the heartbreaking viral video of young students harassing Klein, they reached for their wallets. This is viral philanthropy where users of online communities, such as Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, spread awareness and raise money for those who need it. “With a connected web, we all have a chance to be Batmen/women of sorts,” said Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit. Slava Rubin, founder and CEO of crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, has learned that videos are number one in driving the tens of thousands of campaigns on the platform toward their targets. Campaigns with videos will raise 114% more money than those without. Additionally, users who update campaign pages every five days or less raise significantly more money than if they update every 20 days or more. It’s clear that online philanthropy is booming for both project leaders and donors. It’s already complementing traditional forms of fundraising and perhaps will soon replace them. Whether it’s raising money on a platform like Indiegogo or even instilling change through petitions on Change.org, philanthropists are using web virality to alert the world to worthy causes.
ON THE RADAR
Watch This: Comedy website College Humor teamed up with over 30 celebrities and got them to participate in funny videos for a good cause. People are encouraged to visit the site’s special Malarious page where a donation of $1 or more towards the fight against Malaria gives viewers access to the videos. View the trailer here.
Try This App: A new iOS app called MyPrice aims to help the growing pool of freelancers find the perfect rate for their skill set. The app, which is especially useful for web or graphic designers, helps artists calculate the amount they can reasonably charge for their professional services while factoring in educational background, experience, the nature of the project, client, and location.
Try This Site: The Exquisite Forest is a project conceived by Chris Milk, of Arcade Fire’s Wilderness Downtown fame, and data artist Aaron Koblin. Produced in conjunction with Google and London’s Tate Modern Museum, The Exquisite Forest is a type of crowd-sourced art project that allows any aspiring designer to create short animations that build off one another. The end result is a collection of branching narratives resembling trees. Although emphasis is placed on online collaboration, the Tate Modern will have a physical installation of The Exquisite Forest for six months.