📈 Wild About Brands, Gun Control, and Whitney

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

Welcome to Trendlines!

We don’t generally recommend making definitive evaluations about the world without good evidence (it’s kind of our thing). However, we are pretty confident in saying there's no more fun way to transport a piece of fabric from Point A to Point B than a T-shirt cannon. Honorable mentions go to the Sweater Slingshot and the Overalls Overpass, but they just don’t quite stir up the same crowd frenzy.

The data-driven insights we’re lobbing into the bleachers include:

  • Follow our favorite version of March Madness. Or should we say… March Brandness?

  • Propose gun violence solutions that don’t invoke that “may the odds be ever in your favor” lady from Hunger Games.

  • Trade in Simon, Paula, and Randy for a representative sample of 1,000 Americans.

Enjoy reading.


March Madness: Brands Edition

America is a nation of (currently homebound) shoppers. With the NCAA on hiatus, it looks like online shopping is our new March Madness. Let’s see how the top brands match up against each other.

The tournament uses a MaxDiff experiment (we love these btw) where survey respondents select the brands they like the most and the least among the 75 largest brands. 

Amazon is the number one seed and expected favorite to win the Big Dance, likely sharing the Final Four stage with two other tech firms — Netflix and Google — and a retail powerhouse, Walmart. YouTube and Paypal are also expected to rep the Big Tech conference all the way to the Elite Eight. 

The Big 4 Accounting conference does not make it far in many Americans’ brackets with Deloitte and PwC (and don’t forget about Accenture) rounding out the least admired common brands.  

Yes, Millennials have killed off scores of consumer categories (although bar soap may make a comeback this year) — but streaming media is not one of them. In fact, Americans aged 18-30 admire Netflix and YouTube even more than Amazon

There won’t be a Cinderella story for big tobacco this March; Marlboro is the least admired brand among every segment of Americans. 

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Gun Control Is Out of Control

You know your society is (not even Nordstrom returnable) broken when lethal violence is as common as going to your mom’s house for dinner every Sunday. Despite the illusion that everyone in America has a gun in their purse/glovebox/locker/mattress, only a minority of Americans (27%) actually own a gun for personal use.

Yet even gun owners don’t stand united on the effectiveness of current gun control regulations. Nearly half of gun owners think current regulations are lenient, while 35% think they are about right and 17% too restrictive. And to erase any mental image that may persist of gun owners casually toting automatic weapons on their Sunday stroll to dinner @ mom’s, three-fifths of gun owners want to see military-style assault weapons banned.

Perhaps American gun culture isn’t as entrenched as it appears: More Americans would like to completely ban the sale, transfer, and ownership of guns than actually own them. Expanded background checks and forcing youngsters to wait until they can legally get plastered in public before being allowed to purchase a gun are the only proposals in 2022 that don’t cause a national controversy. And the average year Americans think the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms is 1916. The actual year that happened? 2008

But since 44% of the population literally think the right to own a gun is bestowed by God, don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon. At least until the rapture. 

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


American Idol: GOAT Edition

Who is the greatest singer of all time? Since we unfortunately have not (yet) developed the technology to reanimate the corpses of late, legendary musical performers in order to prop them up on stage for a tournament-style vocal competition on which we all get to vote, we settled for the next-best thing: a MaxDiff experiment.

Long after her death, Americans Will Always Love Whitney Houston’s voice: Houston was 197% more likely to be chosen as the most talented vocalist than the average artist on the list. Michael Jackson’s vocal talent didn’t hold up so Bad, either, placing him as the second-best singer. But, at least when compared to these vocal juggernauts, Americans apparently wish Ed Sheeran would do a little more Thinking Out Loud and a little less singing out loud.

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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