I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for your thoughtful notes and gestures of support for our city over the past week. I hope Pittsburgh’s grace and strength have been as inspiring to you as it has to those of us lucky enough to live here.

I started thinking about this email about three and a half hours after the last one hit your inbox, which was about 60 seconds after the news in Squirrel Hill hit mine. I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said. To offer a perspective – a data-driven one – that hasn’t been seen.

But I won’t. I can’t tell you anything you don’t already believe.

So, just vote on Tuesday. And donate. And put a sign in your yard and a bumper sticker on your car. And volunteer. And drive someone to the polls. And…

Just do good things. And make sure your kids are watching.

And know that I love all of you. Sincerely.

Oh, before I get a deluge of emails asking “what we’re seeing” in the political horse race, I will direct you to this explanation of why we don’t (and why nobody should) publish that kind of research. It’s reckless, irresponsible, selfish, and destructive. Ask me what I really think.

Instead, here’s what we’re seeing that’s fit to share:

Consumer confidence is basically flat in our latest reading, but there are some notable numbers under the hood. Let me first gripe for a second about the media’s overreaction to the latest Michigan Consumer Sentiment report. Yes, their numbers fell slightly in October, from 100.1 to 98.6. But, on a sample frame of 500 respondents, that drop is well within the survey’s margin of error, especially when you consider that UM is in the field for just a few arbitrary days in a month. Practically speaking, Michigan’s numbers were like ours – flat. What our real-time numbers show, however, is more nuanced. Confidence in the labor market is higher than we’ve ever seen it. But confidence in major purchases showed an ominous drop – especially if that trend continues heading toward the holidays. If you’ve ever wondered why I always lead with these macro numbers, it’s because they predict nearly everything else.

Stop letting Facebook surprise you. Look, I don’t love all of the political debate on Facebook either. There are certainly days that the divisiveness makes me want to walk away and I know a lot of people feel the same. But, we keep coming back for the birthday wishes, the memories, the content, and the humor. A lot of Wall St. types were surprised (we weren’t) that Facebook reported user gains in Q3 and reports like this one from Pew didn’t help. We admire Pew and cite them often. But it seems like they whiffed on this one for some reason. Maybe they were having a bad day. Facebook is doing just fine. Incidentally, for my money, Halloween is the best day of the year on the platform.

Virtual reality products have been stagnant for over a year, but intent seems to be rising. VR was all the rage starting about two years ago and we saw market penetration climb from 5% to 12% in a four-quarter period. Then, in Q3 2017, growth hit a brick wall – ownership is still stuck at 12% as of the end of Q3 2018. The promising news for the category is that intent seems to have climbed in the past 60 days. Hopefully, this timing is good for the upcoming holiday season. The category needs a spark.

People in sales and operations jobs are the most likely to cry at work. This is one of my favorite things I’ve seen from our team in a while. It’s worth a read but the gist is that 57% of U.S. adults say they have ever cried at work, even though only 35% of people think it’s okay to do so. In other words, over 1 in 3 people have cried at work even though they think it’s unacceptable…which means they must have been really upset. Who cries the most? People in sales or operations jobs (63% said they have), followed by people in services (also 63%), and management (57%). The least likely? Craftsmen and laborers (46%) and computer/technical jobs (53%). Personally, I don’t see the problem with it. I like working with people who care.

I had to wear makeup to work and now I’m an expert, well, not really. Getting dressed in the dark before a crack-of-dawn flight to New York this week, I smashed my face into the edge of a door and bloodied myself up something fierce. The real bad news? My first thing that day was a TV gig and I was told to “arrive camera ready.” After driving to the airport with an ice pack and towel over my bloody eye, I ran into the store to buy some oh-what-the-hell-do-I-know to cover it up. Fortunately, a few lovely women in the store came to my rescue. More fortunately, when I got to the studio, they had a pro makeup team who did miraculous work, while also getting quite a laugh out of my amateur hack job. Coincidentally, I came back to Pittsburgh to see a study we did about the cosmetics industry and some of the bigger trends in the space. One thing that caught my bruised and swollen eye was the remarkable pattern in brand loyalty and age/life stage. Loyalty peaks at 25-29, plummets, then rises again in the mid-40s. I’ve never seen anything like it.  There’s much more to read if you’re fluent in the subject. I, alas, am not.


  • 13% of people say lunch is their favorite meal (Dinner 38%, Breakfast 27%, btw)
  • 13% say they don’t eat lunch at all;
  • 22% of people eat lunch before noon, 22% right at noon, 44% after noon;
  • 48% of Americans most often eat lunch at home, 22% eat out, and 30% pack;
  • 30% of Americans have had a coworker steal their lunch;
  • That basically means everyone who packs their lunch has had it stolen;
  • 33% of people say it’s okay to have wine with lunch – right on!

Hoping you’re well.


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.

Upcoming Webinars LinkedIn Facebook | Email sign up Email Archive 

Email Preferences | CivicScience | 6101 Penn Ave, Suite 501 |  Pittsburgh, PA 15206