Amazingly, we scored an official registered trademark for “What We’re Seeing.” It’s hard to believe, mostly because it was such a fleeting idea.

My good friend Ivan Martinez at UnitedHealthcare came up with the name – matter-of-factly – after suggesting I write a weekly note to our clients. That was three years ago. And now here we are.

I do put a ton of thought into this thing, by the way.

It may not seem like it, with the stream-of-consciousness writing style, erratic sentence structure. And the grammatically maligned punctuation. But I obsess over it.

My team (and family) will tell you I don’t sleep much. A few hours here and there, interrupted by long middle-of-the-night stretches when I send emails or offload deep thoughts for future use. These prologues often start like that. Or at the tail end of a wine bottle. Or two.

No matter what, every word – and I do write every word – is completed by Friday night. The final word belongs to Amie, our Chief Brand Officer, and my much younger work mom. Her job is to answer two questions: One, will it piss Tara off? Two, will it hurt our business? If the answers are ‘probably not,’ it comes to you.

I’d love to freely spout my unfettered views on everything under the sun and hit send. I can’t. There’s too much to lose for our company, the employees and investors banking on it, and the clients who trust it. Plus, my marriage.

My kids even read this now. Hopefully, they never search the archives. Yikes.

In the end, this is a marketing piece. Strange as it might be.

We’re just trying to challenge how you think. To give you a framework for viewing the world. Because, if you buy into our way of thinking, you’ll beat down our door to buy our product. That’s the hope anyway.

We follow a pretty simple formula at CivicScience:

Everything affects everything.

And everything is constantly changing.

So we study everything, constantly.

Because the world isn’t binary. And it’s certainly not stationary. Otherwise, it would be a hell of a lot easier to write about it.

And maybe I’d get more sleep.

Here’s what we’re seeing (®):

The coronavirus is affecting more things than you realize, and fast. In a matter of one week, the percentage of U.S. travelers who have actively chosen not to travel this spring due to coronavirus fears jumped from 10% to 16%, with another 4% who have canceled pre-booked trips. I’ll bet you an airline voucher this is only the beginning. We launched an extensive tracker this week, looking at how people are cutting back shopping, eating out, even going to the movies, as the virus – and related fears – spread. It’s one of the most important things we’ll be watching right now.

One trend you can expect to come to a screeching halt is the increase in air travel we’ve seen over the past several quarters. Coincidentally, we were just wrapping up analysis on the airline industry when the coronavirus scare got serious. I’ll admit, even I was a little shook by the number of medical masks I saw at the Sea-Tac airport last week. It’s a safe bet that the high mark we saw in air travel intent thus far in Q1 is going to slide. Southwest still ranks as the most popular airline in our data, with Delta making decent gains. We also noticed that women are much more likely to be brand loyal in their flying choices. None of that may matter for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, things like grocery delivery could see a bump in the months ahead. If people start staying home more and more, you can probably make a list of all the companies that will stand to benefit. One area that was already growing steadily before the coronavirus came along was grocery delivery, where we saw a 50% jump over last year. As our friend Dion Rabouin at Axios pointed out, the growth among Gen Z is particularly impressive. It’s also noteworthy how much the grocery delivery trend is eating away at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shoppers.

Second-hand clothing is coming back like it’s Lollapalooza ’92. Companies I’d never heard of before yesterday – ThredUp and Poshmark – are leading a revival of used apparel not seen since I last tied a flannel shirt around my waist while wearing red vans and a Generra Hypercolor shirt. The difference though, is that while my friends and I were scouring the Army Surplus store for jeans, just so we could save money for Camel Lights and bask in our non-conformity, our enlightened Gen Z kids are motivated by sustainability and social good – and saving money.

Hardly anyone owns running shoes to actually run in them, except for MLS fans. OK, stay with me on this one. First, even while younger people are more likely to be runners, about two-thirds of Gen Z or Millennials who own running shoes don’t actually use them to run. That number jumps to 90% among people aged 55+. It doesn’t really matter whether the people we surveyed are sports fans – they still don’t run. Unless they’re MLS fans. That’s the only major correlation we saw and it was a big one. In the end, most people buy running shoes for comfort. And brand loyalty. Also, people still love Nike. That and more about shoes here.

And our most popular questions this week:


Clearly whoever was writing the questions this week was food-obsessed.

Hoping you’re well.