I was invited to appear on Cheddar TV this week, highlighting some of the content from my email last Saturday. The interview was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which was the first time I had been there since a high school field trip none-of-your-business years ago. What a difference! A mosh pit of screaming traders has turned into little more than a quiet backdrop for TV news desks. It was super-surreal…and made me feel very old.
One funny (painful) story: You’ll recall that I talked last week about McDonald’s move into specialty coffee and how it could spell doom for Dunkin Donuts. So, I walk into the interview planning to hammer that point home – only to find a Dunkin coffee cup sitting in front of everyone at the desk. They were the sponsor of the entire effing segment! Oops.
Here are some interesting things we’re seeing this week:
Our economic sentiment index fell for the second straight reading, driven by declining confidence in making major purchases. I have a theory that this was influenced by the back-to-back hurricanes that dominated the news cycle and impacted millions of families over the past three weeks. I probably wouldn’t worry about the likes of Home Depot and Lowe’s (two retailers generally affected by this metric in our data), though. People are going to be spending tons of money on major purchases, post-hurricane, whether they’re “confident” in it or not.
Apparel retail, on the other hand, just keeps looking bleaker and bleaker in our data. We found a new angle on the industry’s challenges this week, digging into a tracking question in our database about where/how people “splurge” when they can. The key insight was that adult U.S. women are less and less likely to choose a “clothing shopping spree” as their preferred splurge. It’s being replaced by things like expensive meals, entertainment, ‘pampering,’ and other kinds of experiences. It tells me that the allure of a “shopping spree” may have always been more about the experience than about the items being purchased.
A non-trivial percentage of Americans still use Tumblr. We seldom talk about Tumblr anymore, focusing instead on more buzzworthy platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. But 10% of U.S adults still use Tumblr on a regular basis, which is a lot of people. Side note: Our analysis of Tumblr users used our improving natural language technology – meaning it was entirely written by a machine. Hopefully soon, I can get a robot to write this email for me so I can sleep in 🙂
It should be an entertaining couple of months in the mobile phone manufacturer wars. With Samsung and Apple both making new product announcements in the past few weeks, the game is on. Sorry if the chart below makes your eyes hurt, but here are a few things I notice: Loyalty to existing manufacturer has held pretty steady, with iPhone showing slight gains over the past 2 ½ years. However, those iPhone numbers seemed to have slipped since mid-August – which happened to be around the time Samsung introduced the Note 8 – and rebounded this week. But, if you look very closely at the bottom of the chart, you can see that the blue line (iPhone –> Galaxy) has moved slightly above the yellow line (Galaxy –> Phone). It’s early, but as the holiday shopping season approaches, things could get interesting.
Even before the big Equifax breach this week, people were finally getting more worried about consumer privacy. After a peak in early 2015, consumer fears over privacy had somewhat stagnated for nearly 18 months despite a ton of negative news. Those numbers began climbing in March of this year, presumably coinciding with the large Yahoo breach around that time, and show a significant spike in the past week, for obvious reasons. It’s still interesting to me that a solid 15% of Americans remain “not at all concerned.” They over-index as younger (18-29), Hispanic, and urban.
Random (Edible) Stats of the Week:
• 28% of people throw out the crumbs and pieces at the bottom of a bag of chips
• 20% of cereal-eaters throw out the milk at the bottom of the bowl
• 17% of people typically eat pizza with a fork and knife
• 9% of people refuse to eat leftovers
And we’re really split on this one:
Hoping you’re well,