Good morning and Happy Saturday. I’m heading to Orlando next week to give what promises to be a pretty provocative talk at the TMRE market research conference. If you or any of your colleagues will be in the area, I’d love to meet up. Anything to keep me from walking around an exhibit hall squinting at people’s name tags all day.

Here are some cool things we’re seeing right now – a little more positive than last week:

U.S. economic sentiment had a nice rebound. Our latest reading jumped more than a full point after four consecutive periods of decline. Confidence in the housing and job markets accounted for most of the statistical climb. It’s worth pointing out that the majority of the increase happened in the first few days of the cycle. Things then fell over the next 10 days and began trending up again. This is why we believe Michigan’s number showed such a huge spike last week – they had reported before the drop we saw below.

US Economic Sentiment is on the rise, notably.

Sports activism doesn’t always suck. Building on the LGBTQ research we started a few months ago, we’re studying if/how companies benefit when taking a positive stance on LGBTQ rights. This week, we looked at the implications in sports – namely, the major pro leagues that have actively supported or developed LGBTQ programs. In short, the NHL, MLS, and NBA are really winning with LGBTQ consumers, particularly Millennials. The NFL, not so much.

The new Star Wars movie can’t come soon enough for the movie industry. After the worst summer box office numbers since I was in high school – that would be the year Honey I Blew Up the KidLethal Weapon 3, and Encino Man headlined the summer line-up – movie-going in the U.S. isn’t showing any signs of improvement (check out the red line below). We studied whether a title like Blade Runner 2049, with its huge budget and star-studded cast could bring casual movie-goers back into the theaters (short answer: no) or whether the new Star Wars can or will (probably). Maybe they should move up that December launch date.

CivicScience data show that less consumers are going to the movies.

Driverless cars still have a PR problem. Between Uber and Argo AI (that’s Ford’s big autonomous vehicle bet) doing all of their development here, it seems like every other car in our Pittsburgh neighborhood right now is a driverless one, cruising around with one of those spinny things (at least I think that’s the technical term) on the roof. Everyone I know who has ridden in one said they felt safe, and my friends who work on those projects say they’re safer than any human-driven car on the road. Unfortunately, nobody else is buying it. Even with newly-enacted government regulations, the clear majority of Americans say they wouldn’t feel safe in a self-driving car. The numbers look a little better among Millennials but still not great.

We drink a ton of LaCroix in our house but I wouldn’t invest in the stock. For an emerging brand like LaCroix, we should see more up-and-to-the-right trajectory in the numbers below. In fact, the only line that appears to be climbing is the “I don’t like it” one. If our house is any indication, LaCroix has a competitive barrier problem (i.e. no competitive barrier). Once our local grocery chain started offering private-label canned sparkling water at half the price, it was a no-brainer to switch.

Positive sentiment around LaCroix sparkling water is fading.

Instagram has now surpassed Twitter in its usage among Baby Boomers. In fact, social media usage among Boomers overall has increased by over 20% in the past 18 months. Yep, everybody’s doing it.

Random (Flying) Stats of the Week

  • 43% of flyers are freaked out by turbulence
  • 56% of flyers SAY they pay attention when the flight attendant goes over the safety guidelines
  • 57% of flyers get annoyed when the person in front of them reclines their seat
  • 26% of people have a fear of flying
  • 67% of flyers prefer the window seat; 31% prefer the aisle

And if you just did the math, you’d know that 2% of people prefer the middle seat. WTF?

Hoping you’re well.