Want to see something super funny? Go to Facebook or Twitter and post a comment like this:
“Man, I really hate Bill O’Reilly and Trevor Noah. They’re the worst.”
You’ll hear crickets. Everybody wants to ‘Like’ your post and hate it at the same time. It drives them crazy.
If you don’t clearly take one side or the other (and there are apparently only two sides today), most people can’t compute it. If you dislike Donald Trump, you have to dislike everything he does. There can be no middle. There can be no case-by-case.
We were approached a few weeks ago by a large, household-name media company about syndicating our content (including this email) and co-branding a recurring poll. They could give us, truly, 10,000 times more reach than we have today. For a little company in Pittsburgh that dreams of catapulting itself into the public consciousness someday, it was nearly impossible to turn down.
But we did.
Because no matter what we do, our data would be tied to the brand – and the perceived (or real) biases – of that media company, forevermore. Publishers have to take a side today. We can’t. They’re entrenched. We’re not.
It wouldn’t matter what our numbers say, only whether they affirm the beliefs of their readers. Either way, we become fake news to one tribe or another. Maybe that will happen to us anyway. But at least now we own it.
So, for the time being, it’s just me and you – if only until our marketing people beat the altruism and ambition out of me. Please tell your friends and keep the comments coming. And we’ll keep bringing you the truth.
Here’s what we’re seeing right now:
Consumer confidence is still in a funk. Our Economic Sentiment Index hit its lowest point since December, trending toward levels we haven’t seen in nearly a year. Outlook for the broader U.S. economy was the biggest drag, falling over 3 points in the past two weeks. Maybe it’s because we’re in tax season. Or perhaps the political turmoil is starting to take its toll. Economists were surprised last week when the latest U. of Michigan Index showed an unexpected steep drop in early April. But you weren’t surprised, were you?
In unexpectedly-related news, people care much less about their mobile phone manufacturer than they did a few months ago. Look at the dark blue line below – people who say their phone manufacturer is “Very Important.” Why is that interesting? I’m glad you asked. Because if I showed you our Economic Sentiment Index over that same period, the shape is nearly identical, with one leading the other just slightly. And why does that matter? Because it could help us predict everything from price sensitivity to brand loyalty to switching propensity. Needless to say, we are data-science-ing the shit out of this right now, technically speaking.
Jeff Bezos is smarter than I am. I hope you saw the Amazon/Best Buy news this week, whereas the former will begin selling its devices in the stores of the latter. And when you saw it, I hope you remembered the coincidentally-timed email I sent you last weekend about Amazon’s plateau in consumer electronics. I could gloat about seeing that in our data but, obviously, Bezos & Company saw it months and months before we did. He makes me so mad sometimes.
It was definitely a rough week for Starbucks. Despite what I thought was a master class in crisis response from Starbucks’ leadership, the damage was clearly done, if temporarily. Negative sentiment toward the company skyrocketed in the days following the racially-charged incident in Philadelphia. Millennials were particularly affected by it. My guess is that the numbers will bounce back as soon as everyone starts freaking out about something else.
Millennial women are changing the fashion and apparel industry in a big way. It could have been the yoga pants. Or the UGGs. But something in the past few years triggered a rapid trend toward comfy-ness in the clothing world, particularly among Millennial women. For the first time, we’re seeingthat cohort place more value on “Comfort” than “Price” when it comes to clothes and accessories. The macro-economic climate could have something to do with that too, but generally, younger women haven’t been as affected by that in our data. Personally, I think it’s a function of our accelerating stay-at-home economy. It’s easy to prioritize comfort when you’re just sitting on the couch, drinking wine, eating delivery, and watching Netflix.
Millennials might kill the vitamin and supplement industry too. I’m usually the first to caution against confusing “generational” phenomena with “life stage” phenomena. It’s quite possible that Millennials (and also Gen Xers) are using vitamins or nutritional supplements at a much lower rate than Baby Boomers because they’re just younger, healthier, and feeling immortal. But it’s also very possible that these younger generations will never rely on supplements to the same extent because they’re just so much better educated about healthy eating than their predecessors. We know Millennials are drinking less, sleeping more, and not doing a bunch of other things I was doing as a kid, like eating Salisbury steak TV dinners and chugging high-fructose corn syrup while watching Night Court.
Some Random (Cantina) Stats of the Week
- 25% of people say Mexican food is their favorite (+1)
- 17% of people say they eat Mexican food four times per month or more (+1)
- 41% of people like cilantro, 25% don’t, and 34% have no opinion (Love It)
- 43% of drinkers prefer margaritas while eating tacos (+1)
- 30% of drinkers prefer domestic beer and 27% prefer Mexican beer while eating tacos
- 20% of people don’t like to eat tacos and can’t be trusted
I guess I should have saved this for my first email in May. Oh well.
Hoping you’re well.