Posts made in February 2018

Black dollars matter, with $1.2 trillion spent annually nationwide

March 1, 2018

With African-Americans spending about $1.2 trillion annually, brands have a lot to lose if they do not make a special effort to appeal to this demographic, based on findings of a poll released on February 15 by Nielsen.

Black consumers and consumers of color, alike, often represent more than 50% of the overall spending in key product categories. For example, half of the total spend ($941 million) on dry grains and vegetables in the United States in 2017 came from consumers of color. And specifically, Black consumers represented $147 million of the total spend in this category, which has recently made advances in product creation to meet the demands of diverse buyers.

Among the other categories in which diverse consumers are making inroads are:

  • Baby food, with $817 million spent last year by consumers of color out of a total spend of $1.9 billion, or 43% of the market;
  • Personal soap and bath products ($1.3 billion out of $3.04 billion, or 42%);
  • Fresheners and deodorizers ($774.1 million out of $2.02 billion, or 38%); and
  • Shelf-stable juices and drinks ($2.3 billion out of $6.2 billion, or 38%).

Not so surprisingly, African-Americans have cornered the ethnic hair and beauty market, ringing up $54 million of the $63 million total industry spend in 2017. However, Black consumers aren’t just spending on products created specifically to appeal their own demographic.

 In fact, in terms of dollars, this group spent considerably more money in the general beauty marketplace last year. Black shoppers spent $473 million on total hair care (a $4.2 billion industry) and made other significant investments in personal appearance products—such as grooming aids ($127 million out of $889 million) and skin care preparations ($465 million out of $3 billion).

African-Americans make up 14% of the U.S. population but have outsized influence over spending on essential items bottled water ($810 million or 15% of overall spending) and refrigerated drinks ($587 million or 17% of total spending).

“Our research shows that Black consumer choices have a ‘cool factor’ that has created a halo effect, influencing not just consumers of color but the mainstream as well,” said Cheryl Grace, Nielsen SVP of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement. “These figures show that investment by multinational conglomerates in R&D to develop products and marketing that appeal to diverse consumers is, indeed, paying off handsomely.”

 “When it comes to African-American consumer spend, there are millions, sometimes billions of dollars in revenue at stake,” said Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen SVP of Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing. “With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the United States identifying as African-American, Hispanic or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy.”

Research contact:

In America, a rising tide of anti-semitism

March 1, 2018

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in America was nearly 60% higher in 2017 than in 2016, based on findings of a report  released by The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on February 27.

That represents the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since the ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s, the advocacy organization said.

The sharp rise, reported in ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, was, in part, attributed to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

Specifically, there were 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents reported across the United States in 2017, including physical assaults, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions. That figure represents a 57% increase over the 1,267 incidents in 2016. Every part of the country was affected, with an incident reported in all 50 states for the first time in at least a decade.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats,  [to] cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.  “These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society. In reflecting on this time and understanding it better with this new data, we feel even more committed to our century-old mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”

Research contact:

U.S. public: Cabinet member travel costs are sky high

March 1, 2018

U.S. Cabinet-level officials are flying high— at a sky-high cost—on a regular basis and only one-third of the American public thinks it might “sometimes” be appropriate for the government to pay for the cost of business or first class tickets, based on findings of a poll by YouGov released on February 23.

Indeed, one Cabinet official, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned from his post last September when news came out that he had often chartered privated planes at government expense. Indeed, according to Politico, Price had taken as many as 26 private flights and flew on military planes on his trips to Africa and Europe—at an estimated cost to the U.S. taxpayers of over $1 million.

And while the Department of Veterans Affairs tries to scrape together enough budget to treat patients promptly and on a par with the rest of the American public, Secretary David Shulkin has come under attack for charging his wife’s airfare to the U.S. government on a trip to Europe that included sightseeing and tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

What’s more, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA head Scott Pruitt also have been accused of using private planes and flying first class. Pruitt pushed back recently, saying that he had to fly with his posh peers, or he would get reamed out for his EPA cutbacks by the passengers in the back of the plane.

A 747-400 in a fairly typical configuration has 14 first class seats, 79 business class seats and 265 coach class seats, and let’s say it has typical fares of $14,000 for first class, $7,000 for business class and $750 for coach class, according to The Travel Insider.

If all seats are sold, the airline would gross $196,000 from first class ticket sales, $553,000 from business class, and $198,750 from coach class.  Most money comes from business class, and although there are only 14 first class seats on this plane, the potential revenue from them is almost identical to the revenue from 265 coach class seats, the travel publication notes.

Just over one-third  of respondents to the YouGov poll believed that it is even occasionally appropriate for the government to pay for spousal travel, as it did in the Shulkin’s case; just over that number say it can be sometimes appropriate for the government to pay for travel in first or business class.

Among Republicans and Democrats there is, of course, some disparity. While 53% of Democratic respondents said that it is “never appropriate” for Cabinet members to fly first class; only 45% of Republicans were in agreement.

Republicans are somewhat more supportive of travel expenses for first class travel, but they are no more willing to have the government pay for spousal travel than is the public overall.

Indeed, even security threats don’t merit first-class travel, according to respondents. Only 27% of all Americans think that first class would be an option under such circumstances. And while 23% of Democrats still would prefer the cheaper seats, if there were security threats; 40% of Republicans might okay a more expensive ticket option.

Research contact:

The yuck factor: 20% of American men never wash their tighty whities

February 28, 2018

Remember how your mother always said to wear clean underwear, in case you had to go to the hospital? Most people either have forgotten, or are intentionally ignoring that sage advice: In fact, nearly 20% of men say they never wash their underwear, compared to just over 10% of women, based on findings of a recent survey of 1,000 adult Americans by Mulberry’s Garment Care.

When the cleaning service broke the numbers down by age group, middle-age people were the least clean, having the highest response of never cleaning. Surprisingly enough, younger people (18-24) had the lowest response rate of not cleaning, and had the highest response rate of between one and two wears.

How often you should wash your jeans has been a popular topic of discussion in the last few years. When comparing men and women, more men said they washed their jeans less frequently than women. Over half of women said they wash their jeans after just one or two wears.

As for general laundry habits, Mulberry’s checkedd to see how many loads of laundry Americans typically do during a week, as well as at what age people started doing their own laundry.

When looking at different age groups, the most common response for each group was between four and five loads a week. On the whole, women were more likely to start doing their own laundry earlier than men. Nearly 10% of older men in particular said they still had someone doing their laundry for them.

Another of the most surprising insights from the survey was on washing sheets. When it came to washing your own bedding, around 7% of men said they only wash their sheets every six months. Over 10% of men said they couldn’t remember the last time they did it.

For guest sheets, things get pretty gross. 17% of men and 7% of women say they never wash their guest sheets after someone stays over.

Finally, the poll did not determine whether those among us who never wash our underwear throw out the dirty pairs and buy new ones—or continue to wear them until they fall apart. We wish we knew.

Research contact: @anniepry

People with disabilities intend to vote in 2018 midterms

February 28, 2018

Fully 63% of American voters are in the extended disability community — people who have disabilities; or have a family member with a disability, a close friend with a disability, work on behalf of people with disabilities, or volunteer for disability causes—based on findings of a national phone poll of registered voters released on February 13 by Respect Ability.

The research—conducted on behalf of the advocacy organization by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Research among 1,000 Americans—found that 17% of U.S. voters are members of the extended disability community and that they are fully 9% more likely to be “extremely interested” in voting in 2018 than those who are outside the extended disability community.

While there are key issues on which the majority  of the disability community aligns with Democrats, such as support for the ACA and opposition to the new tax cuts, they are varied and dynamic in their political affiliation. Majorities in the extended disability community and outside of it agree almost uniformly that the country is on the “wrong track” (55% and 56%, respectively).

However,there has been a significant shift in voting patterns of this swing demographic over the past four years. In 2014, a 55% majority of voters with disabilities or a disability connection voted for Republican candidates for congress while in 2018, only 39% plan to vote for the Republican candidate. This shift is even greater than the 17-point shift toward Democrats among voters who are not in the disability community.

Importantly, these voters with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and looking for work. Fully 54% of voters without disabilities are employed full-time; compared to only 22% of their counterparts with disabilities. Only 4% of voters with disabilities who are unemployed are not in the market for work.

Only one-in-three working-age Americans with a disability has a job, despite the fact that studies show that 70% of the 21-million working-age people with disabilities are striving for work. More than 78% of non-disabled Americans are employed.

Research contact:

Broadcast radio remains king

February 28, 2018

Have you heard? Based on findings of Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics Report, conducted at year-end 2017, radio remains the top way to reach consumers across all media platforms.

Each week, more Americans tune into AM/FM radio (93%) than watch television, or use smartphones, tablets or computers. At the same time, streaming audio offers consumers even more ways to listen across many of those same devices.

So, to really compare apples to apples, Nielsen considered AM/FM radio (both over-the-air stations and their online streams) alongside all forms of streaming audio (apps and websites that stream both music and talk). This enabled the researchers to go in-depth with audio use and evaluate listeners, using three basic concepts that can be applied across all media: how many, how often and how long. When viewed through these comparable measures we can see how AM/FM radio and streaming audio stack up.

How many: When it comes to how many, AM/FM radio continues to reach significantly more people each week than any other medium in America, at 228.5 million adults 18+ compared with 216.5 million for TV (live, DVR and time-shifted), 204 million for app/web on a smartphone, and 127.6 million for video on a smartphone. Looking at the audio landscape, broadcast radio’s weekly reach of 228.5 million also outpaces the 67.6 million for streaming audio, 35.9 million using satellite radio and 20.7 million consuming podcasts.

How often: Americans listen to radio five days per week, compared with three days for streaming on smartphones and tablets, and two days for streaming on a computer.

How long: By understanding the reach (how many) and frequency of use (how often) for each form of audio, we can calculate the time spent (how long) for both radio and streaming audio. When comparing gross minutes—the total time spent —radio outpaces streaming audio by a factor of 14:1 in an average week.

Adding up the total minutes for AM/FM radio and streaming audio equates to more than 202 billion minutes per week, with AM/FM radio representing 93% of total weekly minutes, compared with roughly 7% for streaming audio.

As the audio landscape continues to expand, more and more options will become available to consumers as technology drives all media usage forward. Through all of these changes AM/FM radio continues to reach more people and garners the most time spent with audio.

Research contact:

Tweets using moral-emotional messaging are more likely to go viral

February 27, 2018

Do you want your tweets to go viral? A team of researchers at New York University’s Department of Psychology has found that posts on Twitter are most likely to “trend” if they discuss political topics in the context of morality, using language that resonates emotionally with the reader.

The recent study, Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks—which examined Twitter messages related to gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage—examines both the potential and limits of communicating on social media.

“The content that spreads the most may have the biggest impact on social media, so individuals, community leaders, and even political elites could see their influence enhanced by emphasizing morality and emotion in their online messaging,” explains William Brady, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in NYU’s of Psychology. “However, while using this type of language may help content proliferate within your own social or ideological group, it may find little currency among those who have a different world view.”

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study involved the analysis of more than 560,000 tweets pertaining to an array of contentious political issues.  In reviewing each tweet, the research team separated posts containing words that were:

  • Both moral and emotional (e.g., “greed”),
  • Emotional only (e.g., “fear”), and
  • Moral only (e.g., “duty”).

They relied on previously established language dictionaries to identify them.

The researchers then examined how many times each category of messages was retweeted—as well as the political ideology of both the sender of the original messages and of the retweeted ones. Ideology was calculated using an algorithm—based on previous research that shows users tend to follow those with a similar ideology—that analyzed the follower network of each user.

They found that—across the topics of gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage— the presence of language defined as being both moral and emotional increased retweets by 20% per moral-emotional word.

By contrast, the impact of exclusively moral or exclusively emotional language was not as consistently associated with an increase in retweets. In addition, the uptick in retweets was limited to like-minded networks—a much smaller effect was established among accounts with an ideology conflicting with the sender’s.

There were also some differences among the three issues in the types of moral-emotional messages that were retweeted. For example, in contrast to same-sex marriage, in which people were more likely to retweet positive messages (e.g., tweets using the hashtag “#lovewins”), when discussing climate change people were more likely to retweet negative messages, such as those referring to environmental harms caused by climate change.

“In the context of moral and political discourse in online social networks, subtle features of the content of your posts are associated with how much your content spreads socially,” observes Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and one of the study’s co-authors. “However, these results also highlight one process that may partly explain increased differences between liberals and conservatives—communications fusing morality and emotion are more likely to resemble echo chambers and may exacerbate ideological polarization.”

The study’s other authors were: Julian Wills, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology, Joshua Tucker, a professor in NYU’s Department of Politics, and John Jost, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology.

The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation (1349089, SES-1248077, SES-1248077-001).

Research contact:

Why are more women traveling alone?

February 27, 2018

Women dominate solo travel in a 63/36 split, based on the findings of a survey of the 225,000 followers of the Solo Travel Society group on Facebook released on February 13.

This research is consistent with the personal travel experiences of Janice Waugh, who manages the Solo Traveler community. “I see women traveling solo far more often than men,” she said. “In one case, I was on a train in India and, randomly, there were four female solo travelers in one row: a Brit, a Canadian, and two Americans.”

But with the cost of travel so high and the dangers inherent in going it alone, why do women travel solo more than men? Posing this question to the members of the Solo Travel Society resulted in a variety of answers, with 250 people responding in more than 300 comments.

Among the primary reasons the women provided were the following;

  • 46% said the traveled alone for the freedom and independence. They said the chance to do what they want when they want is important to them.
  • 22% said they weren’t willing to wait around for others.
  • 15% said they travel solo to challenge themselves and gain confidence.

“Essentially,” said Waugh, “solo travelers want a break from accommodating other people’s needs. But they get more. Solo travel, being responsible for every aspect of your travels, delivers a confidence boost that can’t be experienced any other way.”

Finally, a bit of humor from the discussion on the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. From a man: “I’m not sure why there are more women than men. But as a single guy traveler, I’m not complaining at all!”

Research contact:

No apparent front-runner in 2018 Connecticut gubernatorial race

February 27, 2018

With less than nine months before Election Day, a poll released on February 21 by the Hartford Courant has found that there still is no apparent front-runner in the crowded race to be Connecticut’s next governor.

In a poll of 1,000 likely voters, 26% of respondents chose the generic “Democratic candidate’’ for governor as their top choice and 24.6% chose the “Republican candidate’’ for governor.

Among the named candidates, the Courant found, the leader was New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (R), at 15.2%; followed by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton (R), at 11.1%t.

The two Republicans were followed by two well-known Democrats who have run in statewide races: former Secretary of  State Susan Bysiewicz of Middletown,at 10%; and Greenwich cable television entrepreneur Ned Lamont,at 8.8%.

In a huge field, none of the other candidates exceeded 1% in the poll, the newspaper said.

Research contact:

Community involvement is linked to financial security

February 26, 2018

Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) say community involvement is important to their overall well-being— and nearly half (48%) agree that being involved in communities improves their finances, based on findings of a nationwide poll of 10,000 adults released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance on February 15.

This new body of research – You Get What You Give: The MassMutual 2018 Financial Wellness and Community Involvement Study – examines the intersection of community participation and financial well-being and strongly demonstrates that community involvement strengthens confidence in financial security.

The poll—conducted on behalf of MassMutal by PSB Research—found that, even during tough times, Americans find a way to support each other. Indeed, today, the researchers say, four in 10 Americans feel anxious about their current and future financial security and think about their financial well-being daily. Yet, indicative of Americans’ community values, more than half (53%) report that they have supported someone in their community in a time of financial stress, and 25% have been supported by others in their community during a time of need.

In line with those findings, Americans clearly choose to make time for others. Nearly all Americans (95%) reported that they are involved in at least one community. Most are involved in a community with their family (86%), group of friends (65%) or neighborhood (50%). Those who place a premium on community involvement have unexpected benefits, with approximately six in 10 being either comfortable or confident in their current and future financial well-being.

Interestingly, Americans do not share the same definition of community. Respondents defined community in multiple ways, based on geography (81%), values (45%), culture (40%) and lifestyle (36%).

Community is also no longer just a physical thing; Americans are connecting with communities both online and in-person.  Most surprising in today’s digital world, regardless of age, Americans interact with their communities in-person, with the exception of political and interest-related communities.

No matter how they define community or participate in it, Americans agree that involvement in a community impacts multiple aspects of their lives. A majority report that community participation improves their social and family lives (88% and 82%, respectively).

“MassMutual began out of a concern for community in 1851, when our founders first started offering coverage to help their neighbors secure their future and protect the ones they love,” said Roger Crandall, MassMutual chairman, president and chief executive officer. “More than a century and a half later, we are still driven by that same purpose, and this study shows it is more relevant than ever. Our research clearly indicates that by Living Mutual—coming together and relying on each other—we can make our communities stronger and our lives more secure and fulfilling.”

Research contact: