Raise your hand if you have time to answer surveys for 30 minutes every day for $5.

Me neither.

But those are the people who comprise about 95% of survey data nowadays.

You see, when people started dumping their landlines twenty years ago, polling as we knew it began to die. Along came innovators, luring survey-takers to websites or apps with a financial reward. The problem is that survey demand outstripped the supply of willing participants, so people with the most free-time or inclination to earn an extra buck took on most of the load.

But guess what. Most of those people don’t look like you, me, or the rest of the average population. And it’s not just demographics, although they’re more likely to be female, for instance. Good statisticians can adjust for that.

The thornier problems are ‘psychographic’ ones – our data tell us that hyper-survey-takers are more brand-aware, coupon-using, and media-obsessed, among many other things. Those biases are nearly impossible to fix statistically.

Take this much-publicized study about the Nike/Colin Kaepernick kerfuffle this week, purporting to represent the views of all Americans on the issue. Clearly, it was rigorously collected and reported.

But look what happens when we asked a similar question to two groups of people, the 14% or so who do survey panels and the 86% who don’t.

Notice the difference between the two blue boxes. Survey guinea pigs are 35% more likely to support Nike and 30% more likely to have an opinion at all. That’s an enormous variance.

Could that panel study provide some directional insight? Sure. Is it the unassailable truth? Certainly not.

Please take survey data with a grain of salt when you see it, even ours. While we’re making huge strides, we’re not perfect either – we’re just closer.  We don’t pay respondents. We just make it quick, easy, and intellectually-rewarding. And that allows us to study over 60+ million people at any given time, including lots of them who are too busy otherwise.

Sorry to go all inside-baseball on you. But that’s how the sausage is made.

Here’s what we’re seeing this week:

Consumer confidence caught a nice little groove over the past couple weeks. After a few unusually-flat readings, our Economic Sentiment Index showed a little giddy-up in its latest report, driven by people’s continued happiness toward their personal finances. Check out the chart below. Even as outlook for the broader U.S. economy is all over the place, personal financial health has been climbing since June. Let’s see if we can keep it up until the holidays.

Eco-friendly consumerism continues to rise. The percentage of Americans who make it a priority to purchase environmentally-friendly products and services has reached its highest point since we began tracking the trend in 2015. The combination of increasingly-socially-conscious brands and growing consumer confidence have created the perfect scenario for enlightened shopping. Naturally, the trend is being propelled by Millennial and Gen X women, who I’ve told you a million times are the most important consumers on the planet right now.

Fear and anxiety are still holding back a ton of tech adoption. More than 40% of Americans experience at least some anxiety over trying new technology products. Yes, age has something to do with it but only a little. Well over a third of Millennials fall into the tech-anxious category. This is something companies need to figure out.

And no, we don’t think Nike is going to suffer long-term over any kind of boycott but it’s too early to be sure. Our friends at the NPD Group would tell you that 66% of Nike buyers are under 35 and 45% are under 25. Then there are Gen X athleisure moms. Sound like a bunch of Trump supporters? In the end, Liberals are more likely to boycott brands and/or jump to their support for social reasons. If the opposite were true, Under Armour would have surged when their CEO supported Trump. Nope. Anyway, it’s too soon. We’ve seen from a lot of brand crises the past two years that knee-jerks seldom correlate with long-term outcomes.

The more siblings people have, the happier they are. True. The differences are subtle but the correlation is undeniable. And it’s not just about overall happiness. People with 4+ siblings are the most likely to be happy in their job, to have a positive self-image, and even to think they’re taller – yes taller. I loved this little study, even though I’m perfectly happy with my one sibling.


But the more people obsess about planning, the less happy they are. This was another deep dive we did this week. You’d think that maybe being better organized and predictable in your life would alleviate your stress, but no. Flexible people are happier, plain and simple. Interestingly, Millennials are much more likely than other cohorts to prefer making and sticking with plans. Maybe you all just need to chill out.

Some of Our Most Popular-to-Answer Questions This Week

I loved these.

Hoping you’re well.