Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kimberly Maxwell on the Future of American Men

When it comes to knowing what men want, Kimberly Maxwell is the gal to ask. As Senior Director of Brand & Consumer Research for Spike TV, she recently commissioned a study on the "Future of Men" from the Washington, DC-based research and consulting firm Social Technologies.

"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 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. They outlined five segments of American guys: young carefrees, above average joes, good ol' boys, mac daddies, and worry warriors. (See definitions, below.)

The CBS Early Show picked up on the fascinating study. The show's anchor Maggie Rodriquez interviewed a representative of each type of guy at the Black Sheep Pub in Philadelphia, along with Maxwell and Carbone, and the story aired on July 3. View that here: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=4230616n&channel=/sections/earlyshow/videoplayer500202.shtml

This is but one of the interesting bits of research that Maxwell oversees every day as the head of consumer insights research for Spike’s linear and digital channels, focusing on men’s lifestyles and their use of technology and media. Within MTVN’s Entertainment Group, Maxwell also served as the Director of Brand & Consumer Research at TV Land, where she conducted research to understand how Boomer’s relate to and use technology, advertising and entertainment.

Before joining Spike, which is part of the MTV Networks, she was Senior Officer at the Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, DC where she conducted consumer and communication research around public health issues for government and private agencies. All this good work comes from years of education, she admits. Maxwell received her BA in psychology from Wellesley College and PhD in Communications from the Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania.

"I love my job," says the 40something resident of Brooklyn, New York. "I can't imagine working at cooler or more intresting place. Every day is interesting, and I really love learning new things — like I did through this study on men. It's not just great information for our advertisers and programmers, either. I think this study will be useful to men, and women, as they try to figure out who they are, who makes for the best mate, and what their futures may look like."

Here's more information on the five types of guys:

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.

God 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.

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.

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 non-traditional "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.

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.

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