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📈 Parent Cliques, Making Political Ads Great (Not Again), and When Summer Starts

We’re carving up Thanksgiving, cutting ads in Iowa, and ripping up the calendar.

Welcome to Trendlines!

The summer has officially arrived… or has it? Naturally, we have Americans’ exact answer for you. In the meantime you’re still probably looking for ways to beat the heat, enjoy the sun, and forget the existential dread that comes from knowing the year is already halfway finished.

Lucky for you, we have the insights to keep you cool (at cocktail parties) and interested (in something other than where all that time has gone).

This year, we’re kicking off the summer by:

  • Taste-testing a segmentation analysis to find out how many different flavors of parenting exist.

  • Figuring out which political ads will make enough of a splash to get people out of the pool and into the voting booths.

  • Replacing our calendars with thermometers to determine when summer really begins.

Enjoy reading.


Pragmatically Parsing Parents

Throughout a typical day, we constantly classify the people and objects around us. For instance, when driving in traffic many of us play label that driver where we categorize drivers into #%&@^, $*%!, and for the really inept, we reserve the title of 🤬.

With Mother’s and Father’s Day in the rearview mirror, we’ve decided to stereotype parents using a segmentation analysis. While all parents are united by an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that makes life feel like a fever dream directed by David Lynch, there are a-parent-ly five types of parents out there:

Autonomy Advocates 🆓 (14%) prioritize trust and autonomy in their children, oppose punishment, and express confidence in their kids' decision-making abilities. They maintain a hands-off approach to parenting, valuing the growth that comes from exposure to the real world and risks. While Autonomy Advocates trust their instincts as parents, they also believe society should provide more support for parents. What, zero guaranteed weeks of parental leave isn’t enough all of a sudden? Jeez, nobody wants to work these days.

Second Guessers 😕 (18%) are preoccupied with their children's well-being and struggle to feel that they are doing enough to support their children. They seek parenting advice but are made to feel even more overwhelmed by what they see as conflicting information. With all the time they spend researching parenting best practices, Second Guessers struggle to balance parenting with their other responsibilities. This group also feels less-than-supported by society at large. Child support definitely needs a rebranding.

Confident Caretakers 💪 (19%) exude confidence in their parenting abilities, holding the belief that being a parent is not as challenging as others claim, especially after the newborn phase. Their confidence stems from what they believe is an innate understanding of how to parent. And with that confidence comes a rejection of the “it takes a village” mentality, as Confident Caretakers assert that parents should be solely responsible for their child's well-being. This segment opposes punishment, firmly believing that spanking is always wrong. Although not measured, this segment is clearly the least liked at PTA meetings.

Discipliners (22%) believe punishment and spanking are acceptable (even necessary) disciplinary methods. They believe parents should have the primary responsibility for their children's well-being, likely because they value the support of their family and personal social networks. Discipliners view themselves as good parents and trust their own instincts rather than seeking guidance from experts (who may not be on board with using a board for discipline) about their parenting approach.

Clock Counters ⏱️ (27%) eagerly anticipate the day their kids will become independent and move out. They express feelings of uncertainty, lacking confidence in their ability to be good parents. Moreover, they have concerns about exposing their children to the real world, believing it can cause harm. Although Clock Counters believe life gets easier after the newborn phase, parenting often leaves them mentally and emotionally drained. Moving their clocks forward during daylight saving time is likely their favorite holiday.

Which segment do your parents belong to? Be sure to share the results with your therapist. If you’re a parent, share your own segment with your kid’s therapist.

Do you have an awesome Trendlines story idea we should know about? We want you to tell us about it!


Talkin' Policy is the Best Policy

Let’s be honest. Indictments and anti-vax Kennedys aside, we’re likely hurtling toward a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024.

With that matchup in mind, we wanted to pinpoint the political sermons that will appeal most to their respective 2024 choirs: Which aspects of a pro-Biden ad do Democrats find most convincing, and which pro-Trump ad attributes are more convincing to Republicans?

To find the best way to craft presidential election ads for a partisan audience, we enlisted the analysis we love to preach about most: a conjoint. But this ain’t your grandparents’ message-testing analysis. By using the conjoint method to break a message into its component parts, we can see which parts of the messages help (or hurt) the most. That’s right, we’re making message-testing great again.

The most important message attribute (contributing to 33% share of convincingness) for both Democrats and Republicans is the policy discussed in the ad. The tone of the ad played the smallest role for members of both parties. In other words, a Biden ad mentioning climate change would still be effective with Democrats regardless if the tone is optimistic, apocalyptic, or narcoleptic. (OK we didn’t test that last one).

Plots are cool and all, but sometimes they aren’t enough. That’s why we also made a simulator where you can build your own pro-Trump or pro-Biden messages and compare how they’d be received:

Click here to try and find the most partisan message possible!

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


A Summer State of Mind

In the previous edition, we published groundbreaking revolutionary insights about what activities people most look forward to during the summer. So that got us thinking: When does summer actually begin? Obviously we could have checked a calendar or maybe even an almanac, but that would have been a little too easy. Instead, we decided to take a more interesting approach and ask Americans what signals the beginning of the summer season.

A majority of Americans rely on changing temperatures, as opposed to a specific date, to tell them when it's summertime. Thirty-seven percent of Americans stated that summer begins when they start dressing for warm weather and another 36% stated it begins when they start to use air conditioning. It’s hard to summer-ize it better than Ella Fitzgerald: summertime is when the 🎶 livin’ is easy 🎶.

Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who don’t let calendars tell us what to think because only 10% answered that they think of summer as starting on a specific day. Seventeen percent will always be young at heart and believe summer starts when schools go on holiday break.

That’s a wrap, folks

We'd love to hear from you. Do you have any comments, suggestions, or other pieces of feedback? Please don't hesitate to respond to this email, we don't bite!

Do you have an idea for a research story? Want to see it in (digital) print? You can submit your own ideas for upcoming stories to our Trendlines idea repository.

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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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