The Financial Battle Of The Sexes

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In a previous post, I referred to a market research study commissioned by ING Direct as “the stupidest market research ever conducted.”

In retrospect, that was a bit harsh and inaccurate. I should have said it was the stupidest market research ever conducted by a financial services firm.

ING Direct surveyed 1,000 American adults about….well, I’m not sure what they were surveyed about, to tell you the truth. It certainly it wasn’t about their financial lives. The study, which the release refers to as the “financial battle of the sexes survey,” found that:

61% of men find a frugal blind date to be both “smart” and “sexy.” This is a little hard to believe, considering that 73% of men don’t know what the word “frugal” means. The other 27% subscribes to the Urban Dictionary’s definition of frugal, which is “sexy, yet surprisingly revealing.” So for these 27%, calling a frugal blind date “sexy” is redundant.

Women are twice as likely (as men) to be upset by a partner who spends too little on them. From this, ING Direct’s CEO concluded “being a saver is smart…transparency about your money habits and low credit card debt can prevent money disagreements and help build long term trust in a relationship.” Oh really? Sounds like the exact opposite to me.

Women are 56% more likely to give up sex than men. I gather from the context of the press release that this was in reference to the genders’ willingness to give up sex in order to reduce debt. Some comments worth noting:

  1. Men aren’t willing to give up sex for anything, so any percentage greater than zero makes women “more likely” than men.
  2. If there are women willing to give up sex in order to reduce their level of debt, this implies that they’re paying for sex. Really? Women pay for sex? Really? The finding not only implies that there are women who pay for sex, but are paying enough for it that giving up sex would help reduce their level of debt. If you are one of these women — or know of one — please contact me immediately. I can help.

Women are likely to be more upset about an unfaithful spouse (44%) than losing a job (40%) or accumulating debt (27%). It’s actually comforting to know that for the majority of women — and men, for that matter — love is more important than money. But this finding completely misses the key point here: 56% of women would not be upset about an unfaithful spouse.  Of course, that’s not as bad as the 61% of men who would not be upset about an unfaithful spouse.

Men are also almost twice as confident as women (29% vs. 18%) when it comes to investing in the stock market. That’s a quote directly from the press release. It’s statements like this that make me question the mathematical competency of the parties involved here. Why? Because 29% is nowhere near “twice” as much as 18%. Twice as much is 100% more. That would be 36%. 50% more would be 27%. I’m no PhD in Statistics, but I’ve always thought that 29 was closer to 27 than it is to 36. If you must know, 29 is 61% greater than 18.

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I initially hesitated to publish this post, because I was afraid that calling the research”stupid” might offend ING Direct. But then I realized that they’ll be anything but mad. I’ve played right into their plan.

This study wasn’t designed or intended to be real market research. It was simply a marketing tactic to generate publicity for ING Direct, and get people thinking about savings accounts and investment accounts. And by publishing my “critique” of the study, I’m actually helping the firm achieve its marketing objectives.

You’ll be getting a bill from me for my services, Mr. Kuhlmann.

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