Here’s why this stuff matters so much.

On February 24th, we all awoke to news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before I had even finished Wordle in bed that morning, our team of researchers – who work around the clock following the news – deployed questions across our network about it. One question asked whether American companies should cease doing business in Russia. 

Later that day, a mother of school-aged kids in Chicago was reading an article on a local TV website and one of our polls appeared. Among the questions she encountered was the doing-business-in-Russia one. 

She said she “strongly agreed” companies should pull out of Russia. After browsing the results, she moved on, without giving it a second thought.

Over the next few days, 11,104 people answered that same question across a few hundred websites. They represented a perfect cross-section of the population – old, young, black, white, Republican, Democrat, iPhone owners, Galaxy owners, and moms from Chicago.

In all, an overwhelming 75% of people agreed with our Chicago mom. Only 9% disagreed. Sixteen percent were on the fence. 

So what?

As the results rolled in, we shared them with the dozens of companies who use our platform, sending up-to-the-minute numbers and analysis, slicing the data every way imaginable. I even wrote about it here.    

In the following days, some of those companies did withdraw from Russia. No, they didn’t do it because our data told them to – they all believed it was the right thing to do. But it provided assurance, knowing that their customers and the population at large were firmly supportive.

I’m certain the mom from Chicago and the 11K+ others had no idea what difference they made, how impactful that one little click turned out to be. I wish they knew. 

Admittedly, it’s not always like that. Few, if any, of the things we study are so important. Asking people how much they like Burger King or whether they have pet insurance will hardly change the world. 

It still matters. We watch our data inform decisions – big or small – every day.   

The best leaders work in service of their customers, employees, and constituents. And you can’t serve people without knowing who they are or what they care about. 

Our dream when we created this company was to empower people – in just a few seconds of their day – to make a real difference. 

It’s nice when dreams come true.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Tax refunds should be a boost for travel and retail this year. With tax season upon us, Americans are expecting smaller refunds (or none) compared to last year, while 35% who already filed their taxes were surprised by their returns. The percentage who plan to use their refund for home improvement or debt relief shrunk this year, while those who plan to use it for vacation or general shopping – especially among Gen Z – climbed considerably. Hopefully, it’s a big rebound year for Hawaiian shirts.

Indeed, apparel should see a surge of new (online) purchases as summer approaches. Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults say they are at least somewhat in need of new clothes right now. Twenty-seven percent say they plan to update their summer wardrobe for an upcoming vacation, while 23% say they need clothes in a new size. The majority of those purchases will be made online – with only 38% of respondents saying they will do most or all of their shopping in stores. Target and Amazon dominate as the preferred mass retailers among new-clothes buyers.  

Staying with the retail theme, rising inflation is changing the way people shop. The impact of high gas prices and inflation are causing Americans to shift their buying habits. Our data show a notable increase in consumers buying private-label brands and otherwise looking for sale items in the grocery store, while more people are turning to discount stores for home goods and personal care products. We’ve also seen a significant surge in the use of membership club retailers, like Sam’s Club, at the expense of regional grocery chains. Dollar stores are benefitting as well.

People are more worried about crime and violence than COVID right now. The percentage of people who say they feel comfortable being in public spaces fell slightly over the past week, as concern over “stealth” Omicron jumped – also slightly. A less obvious factor that seems to be influencing consumer comfort levels is a four-point increase in those who say they are “very concerned” about crime and violence in their community over the past two weeks. What stood out to me most in this study is the clear correlation between rising concerns about crime and rising gas prices. Makes sense if you think about it. 

In related news about news, people are sick of the news. The war in Ukraine seems to have been a breaking point for a large percentage of Americans when it comes to their capacity for hard news. The number who say they are following news about the war “very closely” has fallen from 60% to 41% in the past month, while those who say they are tired of “all the news coverage” they’ve been seeing climbed from 29% to 36% in just the past three weeks. Fatigue is growing particularly quickly among Republicans, driven apparently by the fact that they don’t trust any of the news they see anyway. 

More awesomeness from the CivicScientists: 

  • The financial gap between men and women since the beginning of the pandemic continues to grow. Ugh;
  • The number of U.S. workers who are eager to return to the office has fallen steadily over the past month; 
  • Just because they’re not using their tax refunds to pay for it, plenty of Americans are still planning home improvement projects this year;
  • People who enjoy rainy days are a happy bunch and other interesting factoids about rainy-day-lovers.

The top questions of the week:

 Answer Key: Salty, all day long; Um no, but those results are wild; Actually, yes; Mechanic; Westerns by a mile.

Hoping you’re well.


Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up hereIf you are new to this list, check out our Top Ten to get caught up.

In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.

CivicScience PodcastLinkedIn Twitter | Email Archive