📈 We're Not Talking About Games, We're Talking About Brands, Man

Each month Gradient surveys 1,000 Americans—this is what they have to say

Welcome to Trendlines!

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that conspiracy theories can have a harmful impact on everyday citizens. Think of all the packages that don’t get delivered to the underside of the Earth because boat captains are afraid of sailing off its edge. And if the near future will teach us anything, it’s that allergies are going to have a harmful impact on our sinuses. 

Which makes us wonder… was that sweet old lady who was planting trees in our community a covert agent of Big Allergy Med? 🤔

In this edition, we:

  • Pit brands against each other in a competition that capitalism itself wouldn’t dream of.

  • Fail at crushing Americans’ career aspirations because they apparently never existed anyway.

  • Pay someone to watch our kids (JK, we couldn’t afford it).

Enjoy reading.


We’re Not Talking About Games, We’re Talking About Brands, Man

America's annual month of lunacy, March Madness, is coming to a close. Although NC State is the only Cinderella story left in the tournament, we firmly believe all remaining players deserve a glass slipper. 

As researchers we're inspired by the exciting play and high level of competition nifty head-to-head structure of the tournament, so we wondered: How do Americans rank some of the most prominent U.S. corporations? Instead of having the organizations engage in a series of spreadsheet balancing competitions, we turned to our trusted MaxDiff experiment, a forced tradeoff exercise that reveals hidden preferences.

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Amazon is the clear favorite: Americans choose the company as their most-liked brand 357% more often than the average brand. It’s hard not to like the brand that delivers glass slippers faster than a fairy godmother. Quick aside: Can we all agree that Cinderella’s glass heels shouldn’t be classified as “slippers”?! 

YouTube, Walmart, Google, and Netflix round out America’s top five most-liked brands. Americans truly love free or suspiciously inexpensive products! They also love… Netflix. 

Disney’s likeability stock plummeted since the last time we conducted this analysis in 2020, falling from the 5th spot to 20th. Not to be conspiracy theorists, but they bought 20th Century Fox not long before our first analysis…

OpenAI (ChatGPT) and X (formerly Twitter) are the two least popular brands. Either Americans don’t like brands with multiple names, or data privacy concerns are directly related to likeability. It all makes sense now—we weren’t cool in high school because people thought we would leak their data, not because we love brackets!

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More Privacy Than a Cubicle

If sneaking 12 items into the "10 items or less" checkout lane is any indicator, Americans aren’t always honest about their beliefs and behaviors. This is especially true when people feel social pressure to express a certain opinion. To circumvent this issue, Gradient developed a survey method to determine precisely how many items Americans have in their sensitive-opinion-shopping-cart. (We honestly believe this analogy is totally working.)

Traditionally dubbed a “list experiment,” our Private Opinion Analysis peels back the curtain Americans intentionally hang in the window of their psyche to obscure their true opinions from survey researchers. It’s not as creepy as we make it sound: Private Opinion Analysis works by guaranteeing privacy, as respondents are never asked directly to share their opinions about individual statements. Instead, they are asked to read a list of statements and choose the number with which they agree.

Because there are some opinions you might not want to share with HR, we employed Private Opinion Analysis to better understand how people truly feel about career fulfillment and remote work. 

Only about a quarter of Americans (27%) publicly think it’s a shame more people work remotely than before the pandemic, but an even lower proportion (11%) express this opinion privately. In other words, when we ensure privacy, 16% fewer Americans agree with the idea that more remote work is a bad thing.

Privately, Americans are less optimistic about the potential for work to be fulfilling (19% say it’s not possible) than they are willing to admit publicly (8%). There’s an even bigger public/private gap among those with a four-year degree or higher—6% publicly say work cannot be fulfilling, while 24% privately agree with this sentiment. Ironically, the task of figuring out why folks feel this way can probably constitute its own fulfilling career.

Want to see the data? Curious about the methodology? Just reply to this email.


Putting the “I” in Childcare

With the pandemic state of emergency officially declared over, Zoom meetings are slowly being replaced with IRL Zoom meetings—there’s got to be a shorter way to say that—as workers are trickling back into their open concept offices. Unfortunately, with a return to the office comes a return of many of the old problems of working outside the home: commuting, having to wear pants, and, of course, childcare. 

Given that commutes are boring and we're afraid of what we'd learn if we asked about the pants, we decided just to check in with Americans about their current childcare strategies.

Given the cost of childcare, it’s not surprising that nearly a quarter of parents (21%) rely on one partner staying at home, either long or short-term, to care for their children. However, this is a sharp decline from the 38% of parents who said they were the primary childcare provider for their children during the pandemic last time we asked this question.

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That’s a wrap, folks

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About Gradient

In a continuously changing world, intuition isn't enough. To address this, Gradient partners with startups, Fortune 100 brands, consulting firms, and political campaigns who aren’t confident answering strategic and directional questions. Through our partnership we help these organizations achieve objective clarity by providing custom and actionable insights based on statistical rigor. Want to learn more? Visit our website!

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