The CivicScience blog had a very busy 2015. With exactly 82 articles we published throughout the year, our blog has been a prominent feature for the expansive, in-depth, and rapid-fire learnings available through our syndicated questions available to all users of the CivicScience platform. We take great pride in making some of those findings public, as part of the “civic” commitment that is part of our brand.

As a child of the 1980s, I fondly remember at the end of each calendar year – right around this time — listening to the annual pop music countdown by radio personality Casey Kasem, eagerly hoping that one of my favorite artists would make the “final cut” of the top songs of the year. In the spirit of such annual countdowns or “year in review” listicles, I’m going to spin my personal top 10 favorite 2015 consumer insights drawn from our 82 blog posts…

#10: Online Ad Aversion vs. Funding for Credible Online News Content is a True Dilemma

Our CEO wrote about the obvious disconnect between readers of online news content who believe such content should primarily be funded by advertising dollars and the discomfort level those readers have about many online tactics used by publishers to bring in advertising revenue. This one made my list because it clearly showcases the need for both sides to make adjustments if objective, traditional journalism is to be preserved rather than be replaced with entirely sponsored or click-bait content:

#9: Concerns About Food Preservatives and Chemicals Trump GMOs

I like that our consistent findings about consumer tastes reinforced 2015’s flurry of food industry news around ingredient and food supply changes – but we pinpointed where those changes were likely to have bigger payoffs. GMOs grabbed a lot of headlines, but it was added preservatives and chemicals that consumers consistently said they fear most.

#8: Mobile Gaming is a Big Revenue Business, and We Learn Who’s Buying

Video and mobile gaming are massive industries, and mobile gaming is forecasted to reach $7 billion in revenue by the close of 2015. Since many mobile games are free to install, the money comes from in-app purchases. As a mobile gamer myself, I liked that we learned about the more-likely in-app spender and that it was not who I would have guessed. Older Millennial men who are financial optimists (and parents) tend to spend the most.

#7: More Consumers Are eSports Spectators Than We Had Thought

Also on the gaming front, we looked at the growing interest in “eSports spectatorship” – which is watching other people online as they play a video game. There was much chatter in our office when we launched this poll, all of us convinced that this would still be a low-incidence population; turns out, about 12% of U.S. respondents say they do this. Closeted? Maybe, but they definitely lean young, are more likely to be male, and are online savvy.

#6: Those Most Financially Strained Are at the Mercy of Rising Insurance Rates in the Healthcare Marketplace

This finding was not a favorite of mine for its positive narrative (because it wasn’t positive), but because it deserved much more attention in the media than it received. We approached this with no political agenda or viewpoint at all. We simply wanted to find out who the most likely healthcare insurance switchers would be for 2016, so that we can present those insights to marketers at health insurance companies. We sometimes can’t predict the story that the data will tell us, and here we found that those with less financial means were much more likely to re-evaluate insurers because they are facing difficult choices in terms of costs – even with the Affordable Care Act.

#5: On the B2B Front, the “Solution Provider”-“Prospective Client” Dance is More Challenging Than Ever

As a marketing professional who has probably attended of over 100 trade shows so far in my career (and countless additional networking events), I have a true appreciation for this post that our CEO did following 2015’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) in Orlando this fall. He observed the tension of the provider-seeking-client ritual found at such events, and the post went somewhat ‘viral’ as we promoted it to our subscriber list and constituents. While this blog wasn’t one of our traditional consumer polling studies, it did indeed report on some very valuable insights for both sides to consider.

#4: We’re Doing Our Part to Help Social Media Marketers

Still warm-from-the-presses, our December 2015 report on “active users” of rising social media sites is a true showcase for the capabilities of CivicScience’s syndicated data. This report benchmarks active users against the general U.S. population to help marketers and advertisers get smarter about their social media investments in Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Tumblr. I wish every marketer would grab a copy; it’s good stuff and it’s amazing we don’t charge a dime for the content.

#3: Happiness – More of Us Are Happy vs. Unhappy

Our mega-study on “happiness” was a big hit throughout the summer of 2015. We published the full data set on over 262,000 U.S. adults who told us how happy they are, and we got extensive press coverage for it. Older ages correlates with higher happiness levels, as does higher income (to a point), feeling attractive, and driving a cross-over vehicle type (more on the car thing in #1 below). Beyond the entertainment value of the data, there is also a lot of practical business intelligence to be gained from this study. Why not use it to inform your campaigns and creative content? Why not use it for targeting key segments?

#2: Market Mavens Are Not Defined by Demographics

Millennial marketing became a tired topic of for us (and many of our clients, who told us so covertly) in 2015. Marketing to consumers purely based on demographics makes sense for many products, but the “Millennial persona” was actually de-bunked by our own studies of consumers. The “Millennial persona” of someone who is an early adopter of new products or brands; who is an active online evangelizer; and is more “in the know” is actually a market maven who our data found crosses all demographic lines. So instead, the persona of a “Market Maven” was very much in-demand after our initial blog post in early 2015. Subsequently, we produced an infographic, webinar, and many authored articles on the topic. So marketers – you probably want to attract Market Mavens, and CivicScience will help you find them.

#1: The Type of Car Someone Drives is the Most Predictive “Stereotype” Attribute

As an extension of the Market Mavens observation, demographics often don’t tell the whole story and that’s what we learned about car preference. In a research study and paper that CivicScience did for the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) 2015 Re:Think conference, our data scientists took an “upside down” look at consumers – and wanted to find if there are certain attributes across 608 of our syndicated research questions that are more likely to predict things and create a “stereotype.” The type of car you drive ranked at the top, while other predictive attributes included second screen behaviors, eco-friendly lifestyle choices, and ownership of gym equipment.