📈 Third Eye Unblinded

We’re predicting the future, how to increase revenue projections, and why you might start smoking

Welcome to the 100th edition of Trendlines!

We’d like to thank our parents for being our core readership in the early days. Though some unsubscribed along the journey (not a joke, still funny), we couldn’t have made it this far without their support. To our original newsletter font, we say: Dōmo arigatō, Roboto.

To the non-familial readers who’ve been with us from the beginning and those who’ve joined along the way, we want to say thanks for laughing at with us. In this edition, we keep the good times rolling by:

  • Crowdsourcing the future we want… but likely won’t get.

  • Cashing in our credit card points on the best hotel Monopoly money can buy.

  • Seeing what it takes to peer pressure Americans into smoking cigarettes (... aaaand we lost another parent). 

Enjoy reading.


Third Eye Unblinded

Want to know a secret? We love fortune tellers. We’re (sort of) in the same field—predicting the future. Plus, they make our predictions look better because ours are based on actual data. We love fortune tellers so much we didn’t even mind when one predicted we’d die while making a pun.

In appreciation of those who provide clarity, we asked Americans to shuffle their tarot deck, polish their crystal balls, and try their luck at predicting future events. If their premonitions are to be believed, the (nearish) future looks bright.

On average, Americans think the minimum wage will be raised to $20/hour in 22 years and that a woman will become US President within a quarter of a century. Other positive events we look forward to are a little further away: Apparently it’ll take another 42 years for an LGBTQ+ candidate to become US President and over half a century before world hunger is completely eliminated.

Click on the plot (that’s the technical name for the chart) to enlarge

 Those hoping that science fiction will soon be science fact will also be disappointed. According to Americans, it will be almost 50 years before we have human cloning (42 years), widely available brain implants (44 years), or AI replaces us at our jobs (44 years). Our plans to get out of work by cloning ourselves and then replacing our clones with AI are seeming less likely.

Despite saying they don’t want another pandemic for 63 years, on average, Americans are predicting another one in only 35. Hopefully it’s just nostalgia for working in their pajamas and Apollo hasn’t bestowed Americans with the curse gift of prophecy.

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

Gradient Methodology Showcase

The Baits-You-Into-Revealing-Your-True-Preferences Motel

Imagine you're a brand manager at a hotel chain. Not a regular hotel chain, a cool hotel chain. Say you're looking to expand or revamp the chain’s amenities to entice more clientele: What features do you choose? Using a conjoint experiment, we did the work for you and got American consumers to reveal their true preferences for a hotel.

A conjoint is a forced tradeoff experiment where respondents choose between two options across a series of products with varying features. This survey task reveals preferences consumers might not consider if directly asked, “What’s your most preferred feature about a hotel?”

Another great thing about a conjoint is it targets consumer preferences twofold: attributes, or general features, and levels, options within a feature. For this imaginary hotel, the attributes include entertainment, food, and amenities. For the levels, we chose “cool” hotel features—but any brand can customize a conjoint with their product features and determine what we call the “hidden” drivers of consumer behavior.

Click on the plot to enlarge

For Americans, the most important attribute when choosing a hotel is entertainment, accounting for nearly a third (29%) of their preference among hypothetical hotels. Of the entertainment options, the most appealing is split between live music in the lobby and an outdoor cinema movie night (both 30%).

So… live lobby music, huh? We bet Americans aren’t seeking a hotel with a Liberace look-alike tickling the ivories, but think about what live lobby music telegraphs: leisure, luxury, relaxation. Something that sings, “This ain’t no Best Western.”

In the realm of Best Western offerings, buffet restaurants are more preferred than fine dining restaurants. If you’re a hotel chain brand manager and looking for our guidance, all-you-can-eat will yield both bloated guests—and bigger revenue projections. 

Curious about the hidden product preferences your consumers are after? Let us know and we can help you identify them.


Flush the Sin Sticks Down to Hell

Smoking cigarettes has become increasingly unpopular over the past few decades. For some younger Americans, the D.A.R.E. program curbed the habit; for others, the famous Simpsons quote lives rent-free in their heads: “Smokers are jokers.” As joke enthusiasts, we wanted to see how many jokers are out there.

One in four Americans identify as a smoker, and an additional 10% admit to having smoked cigarettes in the past. Among those who currently smoke, 86% identify as smokers—the other 14% want you to get off their back!

Click on the plot to enlarge

A Trendlines subscriber named “Marty Marlboro” asks what the going rate would be for a non-smoker to smoke one cigarette a day for the rest of their lives. Or, as Marty puts it, “How much do we need to pay someone to be as Kool as a Camel?” Thankfully, the chances of converting someone into a daily smoker are Virginia Slim(s), as the average American would want one million dollars to add a nail to their coffin each day.

About Gradient

We are decision science partners who equip our clients with evidence-based clarity to answer their most challenging strategy questions and achieve their growth goals. We uncover critical objective realities for our partners with bespoke, consultative research programs that push the boundaries of custom statistical methodologies. We’ve partnered with Fortune 100 brands like Nike, Bacardi, and Brooks, startups, consulting firms, and political campaigns. Want to learn more? Visit our website!

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