Man, did I get some wild replies to my request for research ideas last week. People want to know about everything from in-laws to first kisses to whether people wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. Real highbrow stuff.

Some of you asked for free market research for your companies. Nice try.

There were multiple ideas around things like cryptocurrency, daily fantasy sports, and smart home technology. I’ll get to as much of it as I can eventually. Thanks for the suggestions.

For now, you’ll be happy (or disturbed) to know that 60% of people “always” wash their hands after going to the bathroom. 29% do it “more often than not” and 11% “rarely or never” do it. Women are much more likely than men, GenXers do it the most, and people without kids do it the least. So, basically, the cleanest hand you will shake today is a mom’s.

Otherwise, here are some of the cool things we’re seeing right now:

Donald Trump is fundamentally changing the advertising landscape. I told you last week about the research I was doing – how we’ve seen an incredible spike in readership of political blogs and websites, even long after the election. Not only are people obsessed with today’s political theater but they’re seeking out niche, non-traditional outlets that affirm and even cater to their existing beliefs. It’s stealing eyeballs away from the NFL (but not more than other types of TV), tightening the noose around traditional newspapers, and forcing advertisers to either take sides or lose customer loyalty. This is a fairly long read (about 1400 words) – so fill up your coffee first – but it’s important. Expect me to expound on this in the weeks to come.

Sales of Amazon Echo must have crushed it over the holidays. See for yourself below. Before the heart of the 2017 holiday season, Echo ownership (Alexa or Dot) sat at around 11% of the U.S. adult population, with 8% having owned one of the devices for a year or more. But fix your gaze on the little blue box. 5% of U.S. consumers claim to have purchased/received an Echo device in just the past two months. That’s 45% growth. Staggering. One sour note for Bezos & Crew: 75% of consumers say they’ve either ditched their Echo device or have no intention of ever buying one. Amazon has some work to do if Echo is to become truly mainstream.

Conversely, Airbnb seems to have hit a plateau. I’m working on research about an uncannily-consistent “Tech Adopter Ceiling” and there actually appear to be two: One at around 10% of the population (people who will try anything) and one at 25% (the 10% of early adopters plus 15% who are early followers). The Amazon Echo has vaulted through that first barrier but looks to be in danger of hitting the second. Airbnb, seems to be mired short of the lower ceiling with little signs of improvement. We’ve seen it in our data for almost a year. Morgan Stanley confirmed it in November. Maybe they need funnier ads…

Funny commercials are the boss, while informative ones are on the rise. This chart probably won’t shock anyone. People love funny commercials – more than all other kinds combined. But it’s interesting to note that “informative” ads rose in popularity from 17% to 21% in 2017. Maybe in an era of fake news, some people are clamoring for more data.

It’s definitely NOT funny to put kids wearing racially-offensive sweatshirts in your ads. Do I really need to tell you that? Because somebody should have told H&M. After their inexplicable decision to feature an African-American kid in a dubiously-embossed hoodie, H&M’s brand favorability in our tracking data fell 25% almost overnight and hasn’t rebounded. Retail is tough enough right now. Don’t make it harder on yourself by being stupid.

Laundry detergent pods are pretty cool, so long as you don’t eat them. One in five U.S. consumers have moved away from traditional laundry detergent toward more hip and trendy pods. Share is rising fastest among Millennials – at least those who actually wash their own laundry – 25% of whom use pods. Why did we think to look at these numbers this week? Because kids daring each other to eat laundry pods is apparently a thing now. Talk about a conversation I never expected to have with my daughters…

Random (Handy) Stats of the Week

Searching our question database for “hands” to find the hand-washing data led me to these gems:

  • 85% of people write right-handed, 11% left-handed, and 5% can write with both;
  • 66% of smartphone owners type with one hand, 34% type with both;
  • 75% of people prefer paper towels in a public restroom, 21% prefer hand dryers;
  • 41% of people wash their dishes by hand;
  • 29% of people believe hand sanitizer is bad for you;
  • 62% of couples hold hands in public.

That was a lot more than usual this week. Thanks for reading this far.

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.