Thank you all for your comments in support of my shrimp-tails crusade from last week. Together we can bring about positive culinary and societal change 🙂

Here are a few eye-catching things we saw in our data this week:

Chipotle didn’t need another health incident on its record. Ironically, just last week, I was thinking about writing an update on our Chipotle tracking data, because its numbers had shown promising signs of stabilization and even improvement. Last quarter, unfavorable sentiment had reached its lowest point since Q3 of 2015. But now, driven by the news of a norovirus outbreak this week, those unfavorable numbers are on the climb again.

Favorability for Chipotle has dropped, according to recent CivicScience data.

Staying on the restaurant theme, QSR brands should expect some short-term customer losses if they move to kiosk ordering. Research we published this week found that as many as 25% of frequent fast food diners say they would visit a restaurant less if it moved to kiosk-based ordering systems. The group most affected? Those over age 55, people who desire high levels of service in their shopping/dining experience, and value menu diners. Millennials are widely indifferent towards kiosks, which bodes well for the kiosk trend over the long term.

Business travel is showing a noticeable rate of decline. The chart below may not look dramatic, but it is. Since the beginning of 2013, the percentage of U.S. adults who travel for business dropped from 35% to 28%. The most frequent travelers, those who travel once a week or more, have remained steady over that 4+ year period. The declines have come primarily from those who say they travel once or twice monthly or quarterly. I can’t prove it in the data but, from personal experience, my theory is that technology – namely WebEx, Skype, and the like – have allowed these periodic travelers to cut back.  

CivicScience data show that people who travel for business have slightly increased.

Completely unrelated to business travel – at least I think – religious beliefs are more important to Americans than at any time in the last three years. I have to think this is either a cause or an effect of the current socio-political climate but I’m not sure. Nonetheless, the trend line is pretty clear. The percentage of people who say their religious beliefs are “very important” to them is at its highest point since early 2014 and has been on a steady upward trajectory since Q2 of last year. I’d love to hear your theories on this one. 

Recent polling data show that more Americans say their religious beliefs are very important to them.

Random (Smiley) Stats of the Week

  • When we asked people whether they typically smile for a photo with their teeth showing or without, the percentages were precisely evenly split.
  • 49% of women and 36% of men say it bothers them when a stranger tells them to smile.
  • 72% of people believe that the act of smiling actually makes them happier.

So, smile. If you want to. But not because I told you to.

Hoping you’re well.