- Verbal abuse by parents and coaches is causing a shortage of referees in youth sports. Hypercompetitive Xer parents and coaches have transformed youth sports into a high-stakes battleground where kids are not just having fun, but are striving for scholarships. (The Washington Post)
- NH: Yes, Xer parents are either barring their kids from participating in sports they consider too dangerous (football, hockey, lacrosse), or--when they do push their kids into sports--they're doing it for all the wrong reasons. As a result, most teens get far too little exercise. And those that get plenty--the club sport elite--do little cross training, risk repetitive stress injuries, rarely get to just play for fun, and regularly have to see adults act like jerks.
- The share of companies offering half-day summer Fridays has doubled to 42% this year. In an era of stagnant real wage growth, this perk is an inexpensive way for companies to boost morale and show that they care about work-life balance. (Bloomberg Business)
- ECB President Mario Draghi, defending his low-interest rate policy, claims it has helped youth and reduced inequality. In a rare public Q&A session in Lisbon, he answered a German student's question about how low rates make it harder for young people to save for their future by observing that the alternative—higher rates and lingering recession—would have been much more harmful overall for both savers and nonsavers. (The Wall Street Journal)
- NH: Sure, but Draghi is only narrowly comparing ECB action versus inaction. He is not considering the much wider realm of options--fiscal stimulus, public works, devaluation, and wholesale labor market reform--that might have been on the table had every nation not been cemented into the EU machine. The poster behind Draghi, which read "Youth, Innovation, and Productivity in Europe: Lisbon 2017," clashed with reality: little productivity growth and youth unemployment rates of 35% in Italy and 42% in Spain. For this reason, youth-driven political movements like Five Star and Podemos are pushing an end-run around Draghi and the EU.
- A new report from consultancy Bain & Company predicts that Millennials will account for 40% of luxury sales worldwide by 2025. Unmentioned, however, are the huge hurdles that luxury brands will have to overcome in order to win over a generation that does not engage in conspicuous consumption and values experiences over things. (Bain & Company)
- NH: In other words, 40% of what? The report does acknowledge that slower overall revenue growth is the "new normal" for the luxury industry. It forecasts that China's lux consumption will grow from 30% to 35% of the total. Possible, assuming no China downturn. It also forecasts that the Boomer and Silent share will decline by more than half in nine years. Impossible. It concludes more plausibly that the biggest gain in lux retail share will be online--and that airports and off-price stores will hold their own, while department stores and specialty stores tank. But the success of e-tail and off-price does raise questions about the essential draw of luxury for Millennials.
- Coworking spaces are expanding beyond the urban core into the suburbs. While these communal spaces are popular with group-oriented Millennials, they’re also appealing to middle-aged professionals who want to be close to home to look after their kids and aging parents. (The Wall Street Journal)
- German supermarket chain Lidl will open 20 U.S. stores this month, with plans to open 100 total over the next year. The chain has been described as “Walmart meets Trader Joe’s” for its combination of low prices and a highly curated, high-quality selection—a formula tailor-made for Millennial shoppers. (MediaPost)
- NH: Walmart, Kroger, and other U.S. grocery retailers are girding their loins, so to speak, in preparation for arduous combat--coming on the heels of a margin-compressing 17-month-straight decline in U.S. food prices. And it's not just Lidl, but also its fellow German competitor Aldi, which plans to open 900 supermarkets in the U.S. over the next five years. It gets worse. Aldi's founder, the legendary German billionaire Theo Albrecht, later founded the hugely successful Trader Joe's. Since Albrecht's death in 2010, TJ's remains privately held by Aldi Nord, a German trust run by his heirs. No wonder Whole Foods, already bruised in the organic food price wars, was willing to flee to Amazon. It's a battlefield out there.
- Colorado officials are preparing a proposed ballot measure that would ban smartphone sales to children under age 13. This move would likely meet heavy resistance from protective Xer and Millennial parents who want to keep in touch with their young Homelander children at all times. (The Denver Post)
- NH: Banning sales to preteens is a nonstarter. Parents want their kids to have phones so they can stay in touch with their kids in all situations. Misuse or overuse? There's a huge line of parent-run apps to solve that problem.
- Contributor Rick Nease argues that Boomers aren’t “elderly,” they have simply entered “late middle age.” it’s hardly a surprise that Boomers, a generation that has always fetishised being young, are lobbying to change the labels for aging as they grow older. (The Seattle Times)
- Contributor Kathleen Kusek argues that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is a Millennial match made in heaven. She has a point: Whole Foods was always an ideological fit for Millennials who want fresh, high-quality food—and now it could use Amazon’s sprawling digital infrastructure to add delivery. (Forbes)
- New research suggests that regular yoga and meditation can suppress genes that cause inflammation. This finding is just the latest that links mindfulness exercises to health benefits, which is a major reason why consumers of all ages are flocking to the New Age-inspired tradition. (Frontiers in Immunology)
- NH: The fancy word for this is "epigenetics." The old learning is that we are trapped in the genetic mold of our parents and grandparents. The new learning is that, by altering our behavior and diet, we can trigger dramatic somatic benefits that our ancestors never enjoyed.
But What About Second Breakfast? The Big Food industry has been struggling to adapt to the changing tastes of time-crunched consumers, who just aren’t sitting down for a full-fledged meal before work anymore. (See: “New Options Scramble Breakfast Market.”) But now, companies are discovering that Americans haven’t lost their appetites. Rather, many consumers are splitting their breakfast consumption in two—grabbing something on the go before sitting down for something more substantial later in the morning. Jo Brett, U.S. president of Pret A Manger, says that the company sees two breakfast rushes—one between 8 AM and 9:30 AM, and another beginning at 10:30 AM. Companies are updating their product lines in recognition of this splitting. General Mills earlier this year launched a line of Greek yogurts that includes savory flavor palates (like chipotle ranch yogurt with tortilla chips) geared toward second-breakfasters. Tyson Foods, on the other hand, recently invested in carriers for its Jimmy Dean hash browns to win over the on-the-go crowd.