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The Future of American Men [Social Technologies]

Press release by Hope Katz Gibbs
Client: Social )Technologies
www.socialtechnologies.com / Blog: http://changewaves.socialtechnologies.com
Email: hope.gibbs@socialtechnologies.com


The Future of American Men

Social Technologies and SPIKE TV collaborate on groundbreaking study on how men 18–49 feel about fatherhood and family, politics, relationships, role models, stress, technology, women, and work for Spike’s “State of Men 2008” study

Washington, DC— What are guys’ lives like today? What is important to them and how can we better relate to them? That was what Spike TV asked the Washington DC-based futurist research and consulting firm Social Technologies to help the network find out.

As the home of everything “men,” Spike TV commissioned the study to gain a deeper understanding of the many facets of men, according to Kimberly Maxwell, senior director of brand and consumer research.

“We wanted to check the pulse of American guys to be better able to understand their lifestyles, their daily habits, and values,” she says, noting that the research builds upon Spike’s 2004 “Guy’s State of the Union,” which delivered a wide-ranging overview of guy’s lives.

Maxwell worked with Social Technologies’ senior analyst Chris Carbone (pictured above) to investigate how men aged 18 to 49 feel about fatherhood and family, politics, relationships and women, role models, work and stress, technology, and more.

The project included several phases:

• Trend identification. Social Technologies used its knowledgebase to identify the trends and issues most relevant to guys’ lives. It then conducted expert interviews and developed
hypotheses about the current and future state of American guys.

• Fieldwork. Market research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB) tested the hypotheses through an online quantitative survey. Social Technologies followed this up with focus groups in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Minneapolis to hear from guys in their own words.

• Segment analysis and persona generation. Using a segmentation provided by PSB, Social Technologies created a set of composite personas to help bring the survey and focus group findings to life and deliver them in a compelling way.

“We wanted to bring the research to life so that Spike could put it to use internally and with their partners. By creating personas—or fictionalized representations of different types of guys—we were able to achieve that and put a human face on the survey data to communicate the findings in a compelling way,” Carbone says.

PSB’s survey resulted in a segmentation characterizing five types of American guys aged 18–49. Social Technologies analyzed the segmentation data to create descriptions and composite personas, used by Spike to better understand different types of men and how their lifestyle and consumer habits may change in the near future.

Five types of American guys

• Young Carefrees (23% of guys)
• Above Average Joes (29%)
• Good Ol’ Boys (13%)
• Mac Daddies (20%)
• Worry Warriors (15%)

Young Carefrees (23% of guys). These guys are living out their post-college and early career years, and in many ways have yet to hit their stride. Seven in 10 are single, and they are the least likely to have kids. They are less successful than they thought they’d be at this point in life, but are optimistic about the future. Having grown up with technology, these guys are digital natives who often take advances like Facebook and iPhones for granted.

“One of the biggest things the PSB survey confirmed for us is that these guys are incredibly friendfocused, more than any other segment. Nearly eight in 10 say spending time with friends is their favorite way to relax, and 88% say they make time for friends regardless of other commitments,” Maxwell says.

• Where they are headed. The Carefrees will take important steps toward defining themselves in new ways. They’ll get their first “real jobs,” rent a place with friends; maybe even meet
someone they could actually see themselves marrying. “Friends will remain important,” says Carbone, “but these guys may start to shed some of the people on the fringes of their social circle; they’ll soften ties to their parents, and increasingly define themselves through their own choices.”

Above Average Joes (29%). The Above Average Joes were the most progressive segment in terms of their views on masculinity and their roles in the family. They are more likely than any other group to be married, and many have children. They are thriving in their roles as modern husbands and fathers, and working hard to create a positive work/ life balance. This is reflected in their use of technology.

They’re not tech junkies—but they do look to tech devices to help them stay connected to their families and be available to them anytime, anywhere.

“This segment represents guys who have really embraced the progressive view of masculinity. The Joes feel that a man should be an equal partner in a relationship and live that out at home. They see that having two sources of income is an attractive option. The PSB survey showed us that only 15% of these guys think the man should be the primary breadwinner for the family,” Maxwell explains.

• Where they are headed. These men will remain family-focused. In the coming years, they will face a new stage of parenting with more family travel, teenage kids, saving for college, etc. Carbone remarks that they’re going to be incredibly pressed for time and will struggle to find time for themselves during these busy family years.

Good Ol’ Boys (13%). These guys are likely to be single—though more than one-third have kids—and are the segment most likely to maintain traditional values of masculinity: rugged, stoic, and pragmatic. These values shape their relationships with their partners and kids, as well as the kind of
leisure and entertainment they engage in. They have accepted that dual-income households are normal, but prefer that their wives don’t earn significantly more than they do.

The Good Ol’ Boys have a stereotypical male point-of-view when it comes to humor, and their appetite for extreme content is far beyond that of other segments. They are less likely than all the other segment to say that there is too much swearing or violence on TV.

“These guys also have a distinctly DIY approach to life,” says Maxwell, noting that only 34% have role models and 42% say they tend to figure things out for themselves as they go along in life.

• Where they are headed. Many of these guys will search for someone to settle down with. “But with their old-school views about relationship roles, this may be tougher for them than for
some other segments,” notes Carbone. They’ll also be watching closely for the signs of both a prolonged recession—and a recovery—since they are one of the lower-income segments.

Mac Daddies (20%). These guys lead busy lives, juggling work, home, and hobbies and activities—but they wouldn’t have it any other way. The Mac Daddies are modern men, comfortable with nontraditional “guy” behaviors: they enjoy shopping, carry few gender stereotypes and they care about their looks more than other guys. However, they haven’t abandoned traditional models completely.

They have some of the longest working hours and highest incomes, with great passion for both sports and technology.

“These guys are in-shape, high-powered achievers,” says Maxwell, adding that this group is also the most likely of all the segments to have professional jobs—43% of them do—and this is reflected in their higher-than-average incomes. “The Mac Daddies are also really into technology. Ninety percent feel their tech products say a lot about who they are, and 60% think technology helps reduce their stress.”

• Where they’re headed. More of the Mac Daddies will settle into committed relationships, and many will start families. “We see them being just as confident and driven in these new roles
as in their current ones. They’ll keep powering ahead at work, perhaps putting even more time in as the truly big bucks come into view. Burnout may become an issue for these guys,”
says Carbone.

Worry Warriors (15%). Life is hard on these guys—or so they think. Even though they’re well-off and well-educated, they feel life is harder now than it was for their dads—whether in terms of achieving financial success, finding role models, or simply coping with daily stress.

These guys have been in the workforce for a decade or more, and as time has gone by, many have become disillusioned with the system. Only about one-third of the Worry Warriors report being more successful than they thought they’d be at this stage in life.

Maxwell notes that while 40% of these guys are married and has kids; even this part of their life stresses them out.

“They’re more likely than the average guy to say they can’t meet all their obligations or spend as much time with their kids as they should. They’re into technology, but in an interesting contrast to the Mac Daddies, the Worry Warriors feel that it’s a mixed blessing, and that in most cases it adds to both their work and their stress,” she adds.

• Where they’re headed. Guys in this segment are prime candidates for midlife crises, but they’re also capable of confronting their dissatisfaction. “These guys are educated, and have money, and it’s easy to see them rethinking things as age and experience give them greater perspective on life,” Carbone remarks. “What they really want most is a role model to help
them navigate their career, family life, and romance, but they’re just having trouble finding anyone to look up to.”

What does it all mean?

“While there are differences across the segments, some interesting overall conclusions can be drawn about guys today,” Carbone says.

“For one thing, this research with Spike shows that guys are still deciphering what it means to be a man in the post-feminist world, and this is something we really tried to express in our personas,” he explains. “Life is complex, and even contradictory and—just like women—guys have more options for identity than ever before. In the past, a guy’s “life path” was pretty clear. Life usually included going to school, getting a job, and starting a family, all in a fairly standard order.”

Men knew what they “should” be doing throughout their lives and the timing and order of these major milestones.

“But today there is no set model or path, and men’s identities and experiences have become fragmented,” Carbone adds. “More than ever, guys are creating their own milestones and
measures for success.”

Another thing that came out loud and clear in the research is that today’s guys don’t subscribe to the idea of larger-than-life heroes. Instead, they look up to everyday heroes. “People like firefighters, soldiers, teachers, law enforcement, and also working parents got the nod from the guys we talked to as being America’s real heroes,” states Carbone.

Learn more

To set up an interview to further discuss the “future of men” with Chris Carbone, send an email to Hope Gibbs, (hope.gibbs@socialtechnologies.com) Social Technologies’ leader of corporate communications.

About ) Chris Carbone
Chris Carbone is the director of programs at Social Technologies, coordinating such initiatives as the Futures Consortium, Futures Expeditions, and Futures Observatory. He has worked in research and consulting since 1996, serving a variety of corporate and government clients, contributing his talents to diverse multiclient and custom futures projects, and researching and authoring dozens of reports and scenarios.

Chris’s areas of inquiry in the past few years include environmental sustainability, emerging technologies, opportunities in the automotive industry, and the future of global consumer lifestyles. Chris has a BA in History from Gettysburg College and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in marketing. Areas of expertise: Advertising and marketing, demography and aging, environment and sustainability.

About ) Social Technologies
Social Technologies is a global research and consulting firm specializing in the integration of foresight, strategy, and innovation. With offices in Washington DC, London, and Shanghai, Social Technologies serves the world’s leading companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. For more information visit
www.socialtechnologies.com, the blog: http://changewaves.socialtechnologies.com, and our
newsletter, www.socialtechnologies.com/changewaves.

About ) Spike TV
Spike TV is available in 96.1 million homes and is a division of MTV Networks. A unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), MTV Networks is one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. Spike TV’s Internet address is www.spike.com. For more information, contact Debra Fazio-Rutt, senior director of communications at 212-767-8649.

About ) Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates (PSB) is a market research and strategic communications consultancy with over 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage—what we call Winning Knowledge™. Our media and entertainment group, which was started in 2001, merged the best methods from political polling with innovative survey techniques and high level consulting and has quickly risen to the forefront of the global entertainment research industry. Our clients include most of the major magazine publishers, motion picture studios, and video game publishers.

About ) The Methodology
Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB) fielded a nationally representative online survey for SPIKE among 1,741 adults aged 18-49 years, including 1,306 men and 435 women. The surveys were conducted online within the United States by Penn, Schoen & Berland on behalf of SPIKE between February 5 and February 11, 2008 among a total of 2,140 adults aged 18 plus.



More PR: Social Technologies Articles

"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.