••• automotive research 

Easy on the EVs

Despite high gas prices, drivers not sold on electric vehicles

A person charging an electric vehicle. It may take more than skyrocketing gas prices to get consumers to make the switch to an electric vehicle, according to a study of U.S. automobile owners conducted by automotive research and shopping website CarGurus. While electric vehicles may seem easier to manage, 39% of those surveyed believe a gas-powered vehicle is more convenient, followed by a hybrid without a plug (26%) and a hybrid with a plug (18%). 

And though drivers have continued to show interest in purchasing electric vehicles, some are hesitant to make the leap, choosing instead to lower their fuel consumption (59%), cut their spending in other areas (44%) and consider alternative fuel-efficient vehicles (30%).

When considering electric vehicle brands, Tesla continues as the crowd favorite (45%), followed by Toyota (44%), Honda (40%), Ford (31%) and BMW (24%). Electric vehicle owners consider themselves early adopters of technology (56%) and would label themselves as environmentalists (35%). 

Comparing this study to the previous one from 2021, the percentage of drivers who indicated they would make the switch to an electric vehicle if gas reached $5/gallon has dropped. In 2021, 56% indicated they were more likely to purchase a vehicle if gas hit $5/gallon. This year, as the possibility becomes more realistic, only 27% are likely to make the purchase and instead would be 70% more likely to if gas reached $8/gallon. Thirty-nine percent of drivers agree that electric vehicles are worth the cost and 67% agree that they are the future, but many are not yet sold. “Electric car batteries don’t last long enough to pay the price,” says one driver. 

CarGurus conducted its survey with 2,176 U.S. automobile owners to better understand the general sentiment towards alternative-fuel automobiles. The first portion of results were obtained on February 28, 2022, before gas prices hit their peak. The second portion was conducted on March 14, 2022, and the third on April 8, 2022, while prices were steadily increasing.

••• education research 

College is a group effort 

What makes a college completer vs. non-completer? 

A close-up image of a black graduation cap with golden tassle and a white rolled-up diploma with a red ribbon.Family support and family college history are two big factors that influence the success of degree-seekers, according to a study conducted by Sallie Mae and Ipsos. The study, which focused on completers (students who finished a two- or four-year degree) and non-completers (students who did not finish a two- or four-year degree), found that out of those who received a degree, 69% had parents who completed college while 51% of the non-completers’ parents had finished their programs. Further, 92% of non-completers say they were encouraged to pursue higher education but were less likely to feel supported throughout their college experiences. 

When reflecting on their educational pasts, 74% of completers indicated that they had decided to attend college before reaching high school while 55% of non-completers decided after beginning high school. Sixty percent of completers “always knew” college was in their future while only 31% of non-completers were sure of their college careers. 

Non-completer students left their colleges at varying times. Thirty-one percent were likely to leave during their first year, 38% during their second and 31% during or after their third year. Eighty-two percent, however, are open to returning to courses once they are more prepared. 

Both groups attended college to meet family expectations and to receive better future opportunities. Other common reasons included to earn more money, expand personal knowledge, experience independence and to get a good job. Most students chose their respective schools based on the scholarships or aid they received, the school’s affordability and the close-to-home location. 

Most non-completers withdrew from their programs due to a shift in focus, motivation or a life change (40%), financial reasons (19%) and mental health (14%). Fifty-two percent of non-completers and 41% of completers found it challenging to balance the college workload with mental health. Ultimately, those who finished their programs felt less stressed and more confident and satisfied in their careers. 

Seventy-five percent of completers and 53% of non-completers say they are satisfied with their life. Regardless of the differences between completers and non-completers, both groups agree that college is not for everyone. Ninety percent of completers and 84% of non-completers think that traditional college is not required to succeed.

This survey was conducted by Sallie Mae and Ipsos with 561 American completers, aged 18-30 who completed a two- or four-year degree program, and 529 American non-completers, aged 18-30 who did not finish a two- or four-year degree program. The research was conducted between February 2-22, 2022.

••• generations research 

Moderation is key

Millennials, Gen Z are normalizing lower alcohol consumption 

A group of Millennial friends drinking alcoholic beverages.Instead of reaching for a glass of wine to relieve stress, Millennials and Gen Z say they’re just as likely to pick up a book, according to a new study on conscientious drinking by Reach3 Insights. While both generations indicated participation in a variety of other activities to help manage their respective stress levels including reading and writing, exercising, listening to music and mindfulness, the study found that Millennials are more likely to drink alcohol (74%) than Gen Z (66%). 

The younger generations are becoming more intentional about when and where they decide to drink. For example, both generations are questioning the time-honored practice of meeting friends for drinks. The trend of dry dating (going on alcohol-free dates) has gained popularity among both Gen Z and Millennials. Twenty-eight percent of Gen Z have tried dry dating along with 21% of Millennials. Twenty-five percent of Millennials indicated an interest in trying dry dating while 37% of Gen Z indicated they would be willing to participate. (The two cohorts agree the term “dry dating” is pretentious and overly trendy.) 

Both generations agree that dry dating can offer benefits during romantic encounters compared to dating when alcohol is involved. Among women, safety was a key factor, especially while on a first date. Other advantages included a more authentic experience, avoiding the negatives of alcohol and feeling comfortable with the person you are seeing. 

“We found that overall, these groups believe moderation is key and do not seek alcohol to become the most ‘fun’ version of themselves, especially when dating,” says Jonathan Dore, senior vice president and founding partner of Reach3 Insights. “Drinking isn’t inherently bad, but the younger consumers believe moderation is key – as in they can still drink and have an honest and authentic interaction if both parties are responsible for themselves and their consumption.” 

Fourteen percent of consumers indicated a preference for a lower level of alcohol content in their beverages or a drink that also offers health benefits. Sixty percent indicated an interest in seeking companies that offer lower-alcohol beverages or health benefits. Some respondents indicated that they enjoy flavorful beverages without the high amount of alcohol. 

The study was conducted by Reach3 Insights among 1,016 U.S. adults aged 21-39 from April 8-14, 2022.  

••• financial services

Current worries cloud future picture

Inflation weighs on younger generations’ retirement plans

Coins and arrows on a spreadsheet.Inflation is impacting everyone’s present financial situation but for Millennials and Gen Xers, it’s also affecting their plans for the future, according to findings from a survey conducted by Voya Financial Inc. While 55% of Baby Boomers and 62% of those in Generation Z agree or strongly agree that they are worried about the impact of inflation on their ability to save for retirement, those numbers shot up to 73% for Millennials and 74% of Gen Xers.

Overall, 66% of Americans surveyed agree or strongly agree that they are worried about the impact of inflation on their ability to save enough for retirement. What’s more, an even greater amount of individuals agree or strongly agree they are worried about the impact of inflation on their personal finances and the ability to maintain their current lifestyle (71%). The survey also found a majority (84%) of Americans feel like their money does not go as far as it used to go, leaving many to wonder how saving for the future will be able to remain a priority. 

More than half (57%) of Millennials, who now make up roughly one-third of the U.S. labor force, agree or strongly agree that, because of inflation, they will need to delay their planned retirement date.

The concerns of Millennials today may be rooted in their experience living through the Great Recession and then the recent economic downturn tied to the pandemic. Add to these concerns the burdens of student loan debt, higher health care costs or the rising cost of childcare and education, and the uncertainties deepen. 

Often coined a generation likely to spend their hard-earned money on travel or entertainment, Millennials stood out in Voya’s research as having the most concerns about the long-term financial impact of both COVID-19 and inflation. The survey also revealed that 68% of Millennials agreed or strongly agreed that, because of inflation, they are not able to pay down debt as quickly as they want to — and even more (77%) agree or strongly agree that inflation has made them more aware of the need to save more for emergencies or unexpected events.

“Voya’s survey also found that, because of inflation, nearly half (43%) of individuals have had to tap into finances that they previously had set aside for retirement — and not surprisingly, this is even higher among Millennials (57%),” says Heather Lavallee, CEO of wealth solutions for Voya Financial. “While a focus will always remain on driving greater outcomes for retirement, the realities of our world today require a shift in thinking about the opportunities to harmonize one’s entire savings picture. Resources such as health savings accounts to offset the burden of medical costs, student loan debt support and tools for building emergency savings continue to grow in popularity as employer wellness benefits. Going forward, it will be critical for employers to provide support in these areas so these generations, and all individuals, can find greater opportunity to build a secure financial future,” says Lavallee.

••• entertainment research 

Back to the future? 

Overwhelmed by streaming options, some pine for a return to bundled content 

A glowing globe and a large screen of streaming videos.Sky-high bills and bloated channel lineups led many cable subscribers to cut the cord and turn to a la carte streaming services. But as the streamers proliferate, could the dreaded bundle make a comeback? Nielsen’s State of Play report found that although many people are subscribed to various streaming services, 64% of subscribers would be interested in subscribing to a single company that allowed them to choose which video streaming platforms they receive. 

Convenience is a driving factor towards the preference for a bundle option from a single provider. Many U.S. households have cable or satellite in addition to their streaming platforms but 44% have “cut the cord” completely. 

Despite the interest in simplifying streaming options, FOMO has led consumers to add more services to watch a show or movie others are streaming. Thirty-six percent say they would subscribe to a new streaming service if they were not already receiving the content it offers. Twelve percent admit they would rather cancel a non-video subscription in exchange for an additional video service, cancelling, for example, a Spotify or Apple Music subscription in exchange for Netflix or Disney+. 

Access to original content that is exclusive to a specific streaming platform (42%) is the most common subscription reason. Forty-one percent subscribe to watch shows others are talking about. Forty percent want to expand the amount of content available to them and 37% want to watch shows they previously watched on TV that can’t be found elsewhere. 

In 2022, most consumers subscribe to more than one service, with the highest percentages being two (24%) and three (23%) streaming subscriptions. Cost is the most important factor when considering a new service. Consumers also prefer an easy-to-use service (79%), a platform with a variety of content (79%), good-quality streaming (76%), availability throughout a variety of devices (60%), ad-skipping features (59%), ad-free content (55%) and live content (48%).

Fifteen percent of respondents spend $50 or more on monthly streaming services and 17% spend between $30-$49.99 a month. Ninety-three percent of respondents plan to make use of their subscriptions by increasing their streaming usage in the next year. 

This data was obtained though The Nielsen Streaming Media Consumer Survey. The survey was conducted on 1,394 U.S. adults from December 14, 2021, to January 6, 2022.