By Chris Carbone
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 (now Innovaro) 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.
“The goal was to investigate how men ages 18 to 49 feel about fatherhood and family, politics, relationships and women, role models, work and stress, technology, and more,” says Maxwell. “We wanted to check the pulse of American guys to be better able to understand their lifestyles, their daily habits, and values.”
We found five types of American guys:
- Young Carefrees (23% of guys)
- Above Average Joes (29%)
- Good Ol’ Boys (13%)
- Mac Daddies (20%)
- Worry Warriors (15%)
Scroll down for details.
The project included several phases:
- Trend identification. Social Technologies used its knowledge base 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. 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, which Spike used to better understand different types of men and how their lifestyle and consumer habits may change in the near future.
Step Into the Future
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 friend-focused, more than any other segment. Nearly eight in 10 say spending time with friends is their favorite way to relax, and 88 percent say they make time for friends regardless of other commitments,” Maxwell says.
Where are they headed?
- The Carefrees will take important steps toward defining themselves in new ways.
- They’ll get their first “real jobs,” and rent a place with friends; maybe even meet someone they could actually see themselves marrying.
- Friends will remain important, 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% of guys)
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 percent of these guys think the man should be the primary breadwinner for the family,” Maxwell explains.
Where are they 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.
- 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 percent have role models, and 42 percent say they tend to figure things out for themselves as they go along in life.
Where are they 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.
- 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, hold 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 percent 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 percent think technology helps reduce their stress.”
Where are they 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.
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 percent of these guys are married and have 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 are they 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.
- 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.
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 persona. Life is complex, 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. More than ever, guys are creating their own milestones and measures for success.
Another finding 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 officers, and also working parents got the nod from the guys we talked to as being America’s real heroes.
For more information, click here to view the entire Future of Men slideshow.
And click here to see the CBS Early Show special report on The Future of Men.
About Chris Carbone
Chris Carbone has worked in trend and foresight consulting for more than a decade, serving clients from Fortune 500 corporation and foreign and US government agencies. During this time he has researched and authored dozens of reports and scenarios on wide-ranging topics … from the future of leisure and play, to the future of urban mobility, to emerging consumer lifestyles in China.
Carbone has been quoted in numerous publications including The Miami Herald, The Washington Post Express, and Fast Company, and appeared on CBS’ “The Early Show.” He currently oversees Innovaro’s two multi-client research projects—Global Lifestyles and Technology Foresight—and contributes to the firm’s custom engagements. Carbone has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in Marketing, and he received his undergraduate degree in History from Gettysburg College.
About Innovaro—Insights & Research
Innovaro Insight & Research helps organizations understand and shape the future of their business. Through its syndicated and custom research services, it provides actionable business insights to help clients uncover emerging consumer needs and behaviors, anticipate and seize growth opportunities, define critical emerging issues shaping the future of their industry, mitigate risk, and enrich decision-making. For more information visit www.innovaro.com.
About ) Spike TV
A division of MTV Networks, Spike TV is available in 96.1 million homes. 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. Kimberly Maxwell, pictured right, is the senior director of brand and consumer research.
About ) Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) is a market research and strategic communications consultancy with more than 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage—what PSB calls Winning Knowledge™. Its 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. PSB 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 U.S. adults aged 18-49 years, including 1,306 men and 435 women. PSB conducted the surveys on behalf of SPIKE between February 5 and February 11, 2008, among a total of 2,140 adults aged 18 and over.