📈 Kind of a Big Dill

We’re picking up a new sport, perspective, and our travel bags.

Welcome to Trendlines!

Wherever you are in the world, chances are it's too hot for comfort (we assume you’ve encountered at least one of the 1,333,563 articles about Earth’s surface being hottest on record). Let's be honest—heat stroke is the only possible explanation for Elon Musk's move to rebrand Twitter as "X"... right?

Either that, or like a jealous ex, X noticed Gradient's revamp with our sleek, updated logo and thought they could look as good as us 💅. But don't think for a moment that any of our insights have lost their tweet heat. In this edition we:

  • Smell what’s sizzling with the hottest sports craze—pickleball.

  • Determine whether flamethrowers are covered by the 2nd Amendment.

  • Find Americans a second home abroad after their first one was consumed by wildfires.

Enjoy reading.


Kind of a Big Dill

If you’re anything like us, the first time you heard the term “pickleball” you had a few questions: What the heck is a pickleball? How do you hit the ball with a pickle? Why are you talking to me?

Luckily, the sport has fermented quickly enough for us to read some rulebooks and get up to speed. However, there are still a few remaining questions beyond the obvious, “Why don’t people just play tennis or badminton instead?”

We are fortunate enough here at Gradient to have just the tools needed to open the jar of questions about pickleball, most importantly: Who is playing this game? Unlike us, the majority of Americans have heard of pickleball, with over two-thirds of Americans having heard of the court-based sport. However, despite this widespread familiarity with the game, only 18% have played it.

Americans over 45 are the most likely to be soured on pickleball; as they have the highest recognition of the sport (75% have heard of it), but they are far less likely than younger generations to actually play. The discrepancy can likely be explained by the sport’s up-and-cucumber status. Respondents 46+ are exposed to the sport primarily by watching people play it on TV, while those between the ages of 18-30 say they first discovered the sport by playing it in PE class.

Either way, we aren’t gherkin your chain when we say that the sport is really taking the world by storm.

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Concealed (Fear of) Carry

Famously, in 1776 America’s Founding Fathers convened in Philadelphia with the noble purpose of making a wish on a Monkey’s Paw for the U.S. to be #1 at everything. Unfortunately, the list of things we’re best at includes gun violence. The country has already endured over 400 mass shootings in 2023, which is on pace for a single-year record.

Fear would be a reasonable reaction to the fact that gun violence killed over 48,000 Americans in 2021 and is now the leading cause of death among children. But just like Uncle Jerry tells us about his weekly “special meetings” that he’s “legally required” to attend: admitting there’s a problem can be the hardest part.

Given gestures at politics, not everyone is incentivized to admit that gun violence poses a threat to personal feelings of safety. That’s why we built a confessional booth, in the form of a list experiment, and invited Americans to step inside to confess their true feelings about gun violence.

While Democrats equally admit publicly and privately that gun violence makes them feel unsafe, Republicans and independents are much more likely to privately admit that gun violence makes them feel unsafe than they are to admit it publicly. This implies that the appetite for addressing gun violence is far more widespread than traditional polling suggests.

While we’re happy to prescribe truth serum, policy prescriptions are more elusive. Just 22% of Democrats believe society would be safer if more people owned guns, while most Republicans (64%) think more guns would increase safety. Evidently, there isn’t a magic bullet that makes everyone feel safer.

Curious about how a list experiment works? Want to see the data? Just reply to this email.


Wherefore Art Thou… Rome?

There’s still time to squeeze in a vacation before the kiddos return to school and your boss starts losing the tan that’s kept them in a surprisingly good mood for weeks. For those traveling abroad, try not to pick a place so nice that the idea of returning home tempts you to pay those exorbitant airline ticket change fees.

Although pictures from *insert latest social media site name here* make it seem like everyone is a casual jetsetter, this is a catfish as brazen as Uncle Jerry’s “@Angie_Jolie” handle: 34% of Americans have not traveled outside of the U.S. A plurality of Americans (41%) have visited 1-3 countries but, knowing their geography skills, they may be counting Florida as Cuba and New Mexico as Mexico Mexico.

Even though Americans haven’t traveled much abroad, 70% of them are at least somewhat willing to live outside the U.S. for a minimum of one year. However, the grass may be greener with those *seriously, we give up on the social media names filters*: Well-traveled Americans are more likely to view the U.S. as significantly better than other countries.

That’s a wrap, folks

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About Gradient

Gradient is a cross-functional team of industry analysts, market researchers, data scientists, technologists, and storytellers who help organizations uncover missed opportunities, find new layers of clarity, and pioneer new directions with confidence and statistical integrity. We work with startups, Fortune 100 brands, consulting firms, and political campaigns.

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