Axios What's Next

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  • This morning's newsletter, written by Jennifer A. Kingson, is a glimpse into the future that's based on the results of a consumer survey conducted by Axios and Momentive, the makers of Survey Monkey.

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1330 words ... 5 minutes.

1 big thing: Young people are the biggest "techno-optimists"

Illustration of the letter Z wrapped in circuitry, sitting on a circuit board.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More than 1 in 4 young American adults are invested in cryptocurrency — and it's people under 25 who express the most excitement about everything from electric vehicles to smart home technology, our Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: Young consumers' enthusiasm about trending tech is reshaping mass-market preferences and lifting society toward a more sustainable, convenient and connected future.

  • 7 out of 10 young adults say they'd drive an electric car if they could afford it.
  • More than half of 18- to 24-year-olds want drones to deliver to their homes. (Older people are more skittish.)
  • 67% of Gen Z would be pumped to live in a smart city, and 63% want smart devices for their homes.
  • Young people are leading the charge toward micromobility: 82% of 18- to 24-year-olds support allowing electric scooters, e-bikes and e-skateboards in public places.

Driving the news: Axios and Momentive — the makers of Survey Monkey — conducted an online poll March 23-25 among a national sample of 2,553 adults about work and lifestyle trends. Some findings:

  • Everyone is "meh" on the metaverse: 60% of respondents of all ages weren't familiar with the term, which refers to a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time digital 3D world.
  • Financial fears persist: 73% of adults worry that today's younger workers won't be able to save enough to retire comfortably.
  • Not everyone has bitcoin FOMO: 34% say it's too risky to invest in, and/or the currency is susceptible to fraud.
  • Most people are "over" the traditional 9-to-5 office: 66% of adults say that both office and remote work will coexist.

What they're saying: "Young people are kind of dragging the rest of us forward," says Laura Wronski, research director at Momentive. "They're more tech-savvy, more tech-friendly, more techno-optimists."

Read the full story.

2. Electric everything: Bring on the EVs and smart gadgets

Data: Momentive; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The transition to electric vehicles and smart home devices is proceeding quickly — despite some consumer jitters — as people discover they like the stuff once they buy it, the Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: The transition to “electric everything” will require ongoing investment and innovation. But consumers are already starting to appreciate some aspects of the home of the future.

Driving the news: A slight majority (54%) of adults in the U.S. say they’re enthusiastic about having smart devices in their home, according to the Axios-Momentive online poll.

  • 44% are not enthusiastic, and 45% are actively worried — perhaps about privacy or security concerns.

"Hey Siri": The overwhelming majority (75%) of adults in the U.S. say they or someone in their family interacts with a voice-activated assistant.

  • 61% of them do so on a smartphone.
  • 35% do so through a smart speaker, 29% in a car, 14% on a computer and 7% on another device.

🚘 Vroom: Adults are revved up about electric cars: 64% say they’d be likely to purchase an electric vehicle if money were no object, while just a third (34%) say they’d pass.

  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they'd get an EV if money weren't a consideration (83% vs. 46%).
  • Younger people are a bit more likely to give the thumbs up:
    • 72% of those 18-34 would buy an EV if they could.
    • 62% of those 35-64.
    • and 58% of those 65+

Keep reading.

3. Trending tech: Drones? The metaverse? We're not sold.

Data: Momentive; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Consumers are still lukewarm about some of the buzziest tech trends out there, like the metaverse (which seems to elicit puzzled yawns) and the prospect of home delivery via drone, the Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: Although the companies propagating these technologies are unlikely to be discouraged by public indifference, the results suggest that consumer adoption may take longer than those companies hope.

Driving the news: Not even Gen Z — people 25 and under — mustered much enthusiasm for the metaverse in our online poll.

  • Only 22% of Gen Z respondents said the prospect of the metaverse made them more excited about the future.
  • 26% said it made them more scared.

Overall, more than three times as many people are scared than psyched about the metaverse — 32% vs. 7%.

  • "It's not something that is top of mind for most people, for sure," said Laura Wronski, research director at Momentive.

Most aren’t keen on drone delivery either: The majority of adults (63%) say that allowing private companies to use unmanned drones to deliver packages to their customers is a "bad idea."

  • Just 35% say it’s a "good idea."

Read on.

4. Financial flux: Crypto's still a hard sell

Data: Momentive; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Most consumers are steering clear of cryptocurrency, but those buying it tend to be young, male and nonwhite, an Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: It's hard to avoid hearing about bitcoin and other digital currencies — there are more than 10,000 of them — but many people still consider them too risky or experimental.

Driving the news: Our survey found that young adults dominate cryptocurrency ownership.

  • 27% of adults age 18-34 say they own crypto vs. 15% of those 35-64, and just 5% of those 65+.
  • Men are almost twice as likely as women to say they own crypto (21% vs. 12%).
  • 23% of Asians and 19% of Hispanics currently own crypto, slightly higher than whites (15%), Blacks (15%) and adults of another race (14%).
  • Overall, 16% of adults say they currently own cryptocurrency, yet the overwhelming majority (81%) don’t.

When asked their opinion of bitcoin (specifically), 34% said it was "too risky to invest in and/or susceptible to fraud."

Keep reading.

5. Smart cities: Public acceptance may take time

Data: Momentive; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Nearly half of Americans feel uncomfortable about the prospect of living in a smart city, a place where electricity grids, traffic lights and other infrastructure components are networked and internet-connected, an Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: Cities have embraced smart technology in fits and starts. They're lured by the promise of better citizen services, but fearful of the expense and the potential for security and privacy breaches.

  • So far, the most popular piece of the smart city ecosystem seems to be micromobility devices — shared e-scooter networks and the like.

Driving the news: Nearly half of our survey respondents — 46% — say they're apprehensive about smart cities, with 19% saying they're "not comfortable at all" with the idea of living in one.

  • Younger people have a slightly higher comfort level, with 59% of 18- to 34-year-olds endorsing smart cities vs. 51% of respondents overall.
  • Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say they're comfortable living in a smart city (64% vs. 39%).
Data: Momentive; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Bring on the e-scooters: When it comes to micromobility devices — like electric scooters, bikes and skateboards — three-quarters of us are happy to have them in public places, our poll found.

  • This is true among all adults, regardless of age, gender or race.
  • Republicans are less likely to support the placement of micromobility devices than Democrats (68% vs. 80%).
  • And yet — no matter their party affiliation — far fewer people have actually tried the devices.

Keep reading.

6. Work shifts: Hybrid work is the new normal

Data: Momentive; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Two-thirds of U.S. adults say that office and remote work will continue to coexist well into the future, an Axios-Momentive poll found.

Why it matters: A lasting legacy of the pandemic may be the freedom from the 40-hour (or more) facetime-in-the-office workweek for those whose occupations are traditionally conducted that way.

Driving the news: Yet despite the work-from-home habits that so many former cube dwellers have gotten into, only 13% of poll respondents say “the days of working in an office 5 days a week are officially over.”

  • 66% say that hybrid work (some office, some home) will persist.
  • 18% predict that most workplaces will go back to how things were before COVID.
  • More young people express confidence that things will go back to the way they were pre-COVID — 25% of people 18-34, compared with 11% of those over 65.
Data: Momentive; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The so-called Great Resignation continues to loom large:

  • 17% of employed adults say they’ve quit a job for a different job in the last year.
  • 26% say they’ve considered quitting or changing jobs.
  • 6% have quit a job without going back to work right away, and another 6% say they were laid off.

Read the rest.

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