We had a huge surge of sign-ups last week. Much obliged for your help.
And welcome to all the newbies.
Most of you – rookies and vets – don’t understand how crazy-ambitious we are here. You can’t.
I’m not talking about money, though we’re aiming high there too. Revenue should be a proxy for cultural impact and we dream way more about the latter.
I initially envisioned CivicScience as a consumer brand, something that’s never existed in the research industry before. Our tag-line – “Powering the World’s Opinions” – was in the first business plan I wrote, 11 years ago. It’s never changed. We’ve never pivoted.
But it’s taken way longer than I expected. For starters, 2008 was a horrible time to launch a company. Maybe the worst ever. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Then, everyone said polling was outdated – that it was being rendered obsolete by social media research. Why ask people questions when they’re so readily sharing everything about their authentic selves on Facebook? But we knew people aren’t real on social media. They’re self-promoting caricatures of themselves. Nobody believed us in 2012.
Then came Big Data. Some of our stakeholders – who’ve since exited stage left – believed we should whore out our data for programmatic advertising. We were laughed out of conference rooms, leaving much-needed money on the table, for talking about data privacy and transparency in 2016.
And now here we are. Finally. With no more excuses.
Fake news, privacy concerns, walled gardens, institutional mistrust, and garbage data of all kinds have cleared the table for someone to fill the void. People need an objective and accessible source of truth. A trusted arbiter. A way to be heard without screaming.
Maybe we won’t be the ones to do it. Scale is hard. Overcoming cynicism is even harder.
Our corporate manifesto says we strive to be “a pillar of truth, science, and democracy.” Yeah, I saw you roll your eyes just now. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to believe it. Yet.
All I know is that thousands of people of all backgrounds, status, ideology, and education read this email every week. What does it mean? I don’t know. But it means something.
Just know that we’re all working our brains into jelly over here, trying to change the world.
Enjoy the show.
Here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Consumer confidence is taking an ugly turn lately. Our Economic Sentiment Index showed its second consecutive negative reading, falling a full point-plus over the past two weeks. Cooling optimism for the job market is the main culprit (which may have been foretold in this email last week), as a lot of recent news suggests we’ve peaked. Consumers’ overall outlook for the U.S. economy isn’t great either. Let’s hope the spring season ends on a positive note.
Tariffs certainly aren’t helping economic sentiment and retailers should be watching very closely.We’ve been tracking consumer attitudes and behaviors in light of the real and potential effects of U.S. tariff policies and if you’re not paying attention, you should be. Sixty-eight percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the impact of tariffs on their household expenses and 35% are very concerned. Twenty-two percent of people say they’ve already cut back spending. Older folks and urbanites are the most concerned. In the least surprising news ever, political affiliation is hugely correlated. But that also means certain categories and brands are affected differently. For instance, Target shoppers are much more likely than Walmart shoppers to say they’re cutting back. I could tell you a thousand more stories like that but I can’t just give it away.
Speaking of Walmart, they have a crazy idea of delivering groceries inside your house and Gen Z might be just lazy enough to try it. You probably saw this in the news, but the folks in Bentonville are launching a delivery service that will even include them walking into a house and putting the groceries away. Overall consumer appeal is pretty niche – but when you look at the 25-and-under crowd, a different story emerges. Nearly 1-in-4 Gen Z adults are showing at least some interest in the concept. Anything to stay plugged in to Fortnite.
As Millennials finally get married, they’re buying multiple cars, and that’s good news for the banks. There’s a ton of insight packed into this article (Like, did you know people who pay cash for their cars are more likely to have sex frequently?), so I can’t do it justice. My main takeaway was that two-or-more-car households are on the rise and so is corresponding auto loan debt. And these younger car buyers are more likely to borrow from a bank than a manufacturer. Pour yourself a second cup of coffee and read away.
The new iPod could be a hit with teenagers. Our data suggest that Apple’s newest product is basically just a pre-phone for teens. Or maybe it will be the final nail in the coffin of people actually wanting to talk on the phone. Either way, it seems like a wise move for Apple as they look to lock down the next generation of iJunkies.
A whopping one in three U.S. adults binge-drink only once a month. OK, so the analyst who authored this study didn’t use the word “only.” But I’m hungover this morning and it’s definitely not the first time I’ve said that in June. So, if you want to take a ride with me down self-loathing lane, our report this week on binge-drinking is for you. Unsurprisingly, men and 20-somethings are more likely to drink inwhat some people consider heavy quantities. One notable finding: Binge-drinkers are nearly 2X more likely than non-bingers to use ride-sharing services. Unlike your spouse or your liver, Uber and Lyft love it when you get drunk.
And here are your most popular questions from this week:
That might be the most random list yet.
Hoping you’re well.