📈 Saturday Morning Fever

We’re embarking on cruises, surfing Saturday morning channels, and sailing past our wildest dreams of success.

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One of the biggest downsides of modernity is the complete lack of family crests. If your family doesn’t already have an oddly menacing symbol of heraldry adorning your mailbox, maybe it’s not too late to spin one up. There’s just something undeniably metal about boiling down your entire family’s history, achievements, and values into a single fancy colorful graphic regardless of whether your ancestors did anything impressive.

The cumulative sum of our history, achievements, and values we’ll pass down as treasured heirlooms to our descendants without their consent include:

  • So deeply overanalyzing the cartoons we all grew up with that it’ll simultaneously feel like you’re both in school and playing hooky.

  • Creating the optimal plan for cruisin’ (hint: it involves minimal bruisin’).

  • Using science to tell the Joneses that nobody actually cares about keeping up with them.

Enjoy reading.


Saturday Morning Fever

You know you’re not a kid anymore when you spend your weekend in the doorknob aisle at Home Depot to see if they have that exact shade of bronze you need (they never do). It’s safe to say we miss the halcyon days when Saturday mornings were spent getting animated about animation: 94% of Americans report watching cartoons at least weekly when they were young, 56% of whom say they were most likely to watch on weekend mornings.

For those who didn’t get hot and bothered by all that doorknob talk, we built our trusty MaxDiff analysis to rank Americans’ favorite children’s TV shows. The only fire on the other side of this hot doorknob is some 🔥 insights.

Pulling the mask off childhood TV show preferences reveals Scooby Doo, Tom & Jerry, and The Flintstones as America’s favorites. We don’t need the gang to solve this mystery: the secret formula to becoming a bedrock childhood program involves simply existing for over five decades, appealing to every generation (it’s just that easy!). The Wiggles is the least preferred show, which must be a difficult bite of “Fruit Salad” to swallow.

Watching cartoons was a popular childhood pastime on more than just Saturday mornings, as it was the main activity for 23% when staying home sick from school (trailing only the 35% who would primarily sleep). But since we recently lost the home-from-school GOAT Bob Barker, it seems appropriate to showcase that a whopping two-thirds of Americans experienced the unmatched euphoria of a Price is Right contestant while they were home with the tummy rumbles.

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Gradient Analysis Showcase

Cruise Control

Let’s say you wanted to build a boat. A really big floating COVID super-spreader event palace where very sunburned Americans of all ages dance the electric slide each evening. For cruise companies faced with the titanic task of trying to appeal to the UV-exposed masses, we ran a conjoint analysis to identify the cruise components that are most likely to get Americans to fly to Miami only to spend 20 minutes on solid ground.

Turns out the most important element of a cruise has nothing to do with the ship, but the ports that it calls on, accounting for nearly one-third of the overall choice of a cruise package. And yes, the Caribbean has never been hotter as it's the preferred cruise destination closely followed by Europe (which also had a toasty 2023).

Assuming your ship can outrun the Black Pearl, visiting its amusement and water parks is the most preferred activity, which accounts for 25% of the overall cruise package decision. Taking a class is not a seaworthy idea, so nerdy cruisers may as well walk the plank.

But cruising's popularity is reinforced by the findings from the preferred cruise duration: a majority of Americans would prefer to spend seven or more days at sea nursing their sunburns and drinking rum with Jack Sparrow in Nassau. Or maybe it’s only cruises that make it to day seven that get to dance a 3,000-person-strong conga line before dinner.

Curious about the product preferences (cruise-related or otherwise) your consumers are after? Let us know and we can help you identify them.

Gradient in the Wild

Diploma, Diploma on the Wall, Who Is the Most Successful of Them All?

Is there anything more likely to evoke images of the American Dream than a white-picket fence, a framed college diploma hanging on the wall, and a midlife crisis-inspired American muscle car sitting in the driveway?

A new study from the think tank Populace, powered by Gradient and fielded by YouGov, reveals what Americans personally believe the American Dream to be today. The private opinion study was designed to uncover how Americans personally define success, how society defines success, and the extent to which people believe they are achieving success, as they define it.

Using a choice-based-conjoint experiment, we presented two hypothetical individuals composed of various characteristics (or attributes) and asked a representative sample of Americans to decide who they deemed to be more successful, personally, and who they believe most people would say is successful.

Populace’s Success Index revealed the staggering chasm between Americans’ personal definitions of success and the perceived societal definition of success. Of the 61 attributes tested, more than half are collective illusions: in other words, there are widespread misperceptions about how the “majority” of Americans would define success. For example, despite wide consensus that being rich and famous, owning many luxury items, having an advanced degree from an elite institution, and amassing a large social media following are markers of society’s definition of success, all those characteristics were in the bottom third of Americans’ personal definitions of success.

By contrast, Americans are much more likely to use markers of a meaningful life, financial stability, and positive character traits to define success. For example, doing work that has a positive impact on other people, is on track for a secure retirement, and is financially independent from others were the most prioritized attributes of personal success. Well, there you have it. If given the chance, most Americans would rather be Miley Stewart than Hannah Montana… even if everyone is led to believe that you should want to be Hannah.

The Success Index is chalk-full of insights. We encourage you to check it out and pursue your own, individualized American Dream.

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

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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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