It totally sucks to be a hugger right now.

Being a mild hypochondriac with seasonal allergies isn’t awesome either. But the hugging situation is the worst. I’m a huge hugger.

Not just your run-of-the-mill, high-handshake, chest-bump, single-pat-on-the-back kind of bro hug. That’s different (although still taboo at the moment).

I’m talking about two-arms-around-the-back and squeeze-for-a-solid-three-seconds kind of hug.

My kids make fun of me because I refer to about 20 different guys as my “best friend.” I have a group of eight fraternity brothers I WhatsApp with every day. Plus five best friends from high school, four brothers-from-other-mothers in my band, and a couple other super-close friends I made in my adult life. They’re all “the best” and I would never pick one over the others, even if I could.

Fortunately, my dad was still alive to be “the Best” Man in my wedding. It saved me from picking a name out of a hat.

Just as fortunately, Tara lets me do a couple guy weekends every year with each of those groups. Hunting, fishing, and golfing with the childhood friends, random cities with the college friends, and travel gigs with the band. Just guys. Usually drinking, excessively. And bonding. I never say goodbye without “I love you.”

Because I’m sappy as hell about my friendships. What else are we on this planet for, really?

Family, of course, but then what?

Life is about finding people who choose you, who you choose, to share in your adventures. To ride your roller coaster. To be a bad influence on your kids. To carry your parents’ caskets. Life is about finding the people you can go years without seeing, then slide right back into a groove like you were together yesterday.

We did a study this week that found people are missing their friends more than anything during quarantine. But it’s just 26% of respondents. 26!!!

Seventy-four percent of people answered something else – like 22% said they missed bars and restaurants more. Eleven percent said they miss shopping. Eleven percent said they miss watching sports. I like all those things, but come on.

At least 10% of people said they miss hugging the most.

For me, there’s never been a poll question I’ve had an easier time answering.

I miss my friends.

Here’s what we’re seeing this week:

You’re lucky you get to work from home and don’t forget it. All these Zoom meetings are turning my brain to mush and I genuinely have no idea what day or time it is at any point. But if you’re like me, you’re best to just keep your complaints to yourself. Because remote working is a calling card of financial security that a lot of people would gladly trade you for right now. Very few people making under $50k/year have the option to work from home. Count your blessings.

Don’t even complain about your slow internet even though most of us have experienced it lately. Sixty-three percent of Americans tell us they’ve dealt with slower-than-usual web access since the start of the CV crisis. The number jumps to 77% among Gen Z, either because they’re using the internet the most or because they’re too young to know what dial-up is. Spoiled little brats. Anyway, these Zs and younger Millennials are also the most likely to have upgraded their home internet service over the past month. I guess they mean business.

Most people are willing to submit to temperature checks at your job unless you’re an asshole. People are so eager to get the country back to work that more than 90% of U.S. adults say they would be willing to have their temperature taken before walking in the door every day. The numbers for travel are almost identical. But guess what: The people who are currently working are much more likely to be uncomfortable with the idea, while those who are unemployed are 2X more likely to support it. Younger people are also less likely to be comfortable with the idea. Must be nice to be low-risk.

In spite of – or because of – the global pandemic, Americans are growing much more concerned about tariff costs. This one surprised me because overall concern about anything NOT directly CV-related, things like public education, immigration, national security, have all been falling over the past several weeks. But tariff concerns jumped like we haven’t seen in months. Take this one as a proxy for extreme financial panic in U.S. households. The idea of anything hitting our wallets any harder is more than most people can stomach.

Fast food brands are seeing a favorability boost from being always-on. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are showing higher overall levels of brand loyalty in most categories – though we should expect that to weaken as we move deeper into a recession and price sensitivity creeps in. One group that should see lasting momentum in the months ahead is the QSR category, where we see increasing brand favorability almost across the board. Restaurants that can win on value, while parlaying the loyalty they’re building today, will weather a recession better than most.

Quarantine is a real test of willpower – and we’re failing. According to a study we published this week, a whopping 73% of Americans have cut corners on whatever diet they were following before the CV crisis started. A full 26% have bailed altogether. My fellow Gen Xers are eating way more while social distancing because shut up, that’s why. Interestingly, people who normally (pre-CV) exercise the most are also eating more at a higher net rate than those who exercise less or not at all. Out of the gym and into the fridge.

And that’s just the beginning, as we published 18 studies this week, not including several client-only ones. Here are some highlights:

These were our most popular questions this week:


Hoping you’re well.