Over 164 million Americans have answered our polls.

That’s higher than the number of U.S. Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram users. And it’s higher than the number of people who voted in the 2020 presidential election.

When we show our polling application to prospective publisher partners, we’re often met with incredulity from editors – “Our audience won’t answer research questions like those!” The conventional wisdom is that people only want fun or frivolous experiences online, like beverage companies who believed for decades that people only like high-fructose corn syrup. 

A lot of (most?) professionals in media, brand marketing, and especially politics, think people are dumb. They certainly treat us like we are. And, sure, if you look at the clickbait we succumb to, the junk food we eat, and the campaign promises we believe, we’re definitely not always the best versions of ourselves. We’re prone to manipulation.

But we also want something better. We have more to offer.

After answering the “fun” poll question we ask at the end of an article on a website, 87% of respondents continue through the four research questions to the end. Twenty-six percent of those people click “answer more” and keep going. Three weeks ago, we crossed the 5 billion mark in questions answered. That’s an average of 30 answers per person, meaning tons of people come back over and over again. 

The notion that people won’t answer our polls “because they look like research” is diametrically wrong. Do they like the fun questions? Sure. Do they mostly answer because they want to see the results at the end? Also, sure. But do they appreciate feeling like they’re part of a thoughtful and credible exercise? Absolutely. We’ve done research on research to prove it.  

People want to be heard by others who care what they think, who respect their opinion. They don’t view our polls as work – which is why we don’t have to pay them. We provide them a service. They provide us raw material. And by sharing our findings with decision-makers who take them into account, we hold up our end of the bargain.

It’s also why we publish so much stuff – often to the chagrin of my board who thinks we give too much away for free. Knowledge should be democratized, especially when that knowledge, itself, is democratic. 

How else are we going to fix the divisive hell hole our politicians and media overlords created for us? People need to be heard and respected.

We’re doing our part.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Sports betting is a juggernaut. A whopping 58% of Gen Z adults and 47% of Millennials say they bet on sports, which is particularly eye-catching given that it’s only legal in 38 states – and only legal online in 29. Expect all these numbers to only grow. Also in our 3 Things to Know this week, we noted the different holiday shopping habits of Republicans and Democrats, with the latter being more likely to purchase in “experience” categories. Finally, we looked at how buy now, pay later services are prevalent among holiday shoppers expecting to spend more this year.

TikTok Shop might not make a big dent in Amazon this year, but don’t sleep on it. A mere 1 in 10 Americans say they shopped for holiday gifts on TikTok’s new e-commerce platform this year (or plan to). But those figures jump to 32% among Gen Z. Considering the nascency of the platform and TikTok’s recent announcement of plans to double-down their investment in TikTok Shop, you should expect this to become an increasingly big deal.

The importance of brand values has become a polarizing issue. The percentage of Americans who say that a company’s level of social consciousness and overall kindness is “very important” reached new heights over the past month. In a more fascinating development, however, the percentage who say it’s “not at all important” also reached new heights. Those in the middle of the issue dropped precipitously. Meanwhile, a clear majority of U.S. adults believe brands should stay away from social issues altogether, yet they also say “values” remain a big driver of brand loyalty. The whole thing creates quite a tap dance for marketers.

Holiday enthusiasts are fully prepared to spend more on Christmas dinner this year. Even as the price of ham and beef roasts have fallen year-over-year, 76% of Americans say they plan to spend the same (47%) or more (29%) on their big holiday dinner compared to last year – and 90% say they’re planning to eat a home-cooked meal. Driving the commitment to a hearty dinner is the rising importance of holiday traditions in the post-COVID era. It’s yet another data point around the prevailing theme of emotional well-being and consumer spending. 

But they’re also expecting to spend less on toys. Parents, grandparents, and other children’s gift-buyers report that they will pare back the amount of money they spend on toys this year, even though more people plan to buy toys overall. It suggests that fewer expensive toy items – particularly educational toys and electronics – will be in shopping carts in 2023, while games, puzzles, and plush toys should see a boost. For yet another year, LEGO is leading the way as the most popular brand, growing its lead over second-place Disney significantly compared to 2022. 

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™:

One Programming Note: I’m hosting a webinar on Tuesday to share some of our biggest trends and predictions to watch going into 2024. Given the massive number of people who’ve signed up, I better be right. Sign up here if you’re interested.   

The most popular questions this week:

Do you rely on humor as a coping mechanism?

Do you tend to bond with animals quickly?

Who’s the better classic movie monster: Godzilla or King Kong? 

Do you listen to Christmas music year-round?

What is your favorite winter-time comfort dish?

Answer Key: One million percent; Very much; Not a fan of either; Nope, December only; Tomato soup (and grilled cheese).

Hoping you’re well.


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