📈 Freedom vs. Football, Bud vs. Corona, and Musk vs. Zuck

We’re delivering flag-wrapped, beer-canned, and billionaire-bandaged insights.

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:

  • Ranking the most American things instead of suffering the embarrassment of ranking the US against the rest of the world.

  • Name-dropping almost as many beer brands as you’d encounter during an average NFL commercial break.

  • Predicting who would win a Musk-Zuck fight which, in retrospect, is definitely the most American thing.

Enjoy reading.


America’s Next Top Icon

We’ve all heard it before: “What’s more American than apple pie and baseball?” Most people don’t think twice about an expression like that, but we believe there’s no expression, turn of phrase, or colloquialism that we can’t ruin improve by subjecting it to intense scrutiny.

Of course, it isn’t enough to just find out how American apple pie is (hint: not very). We want to find out exactly what the most American thing is in the most democratic way possible. To do this we turned to our tried and true MaxDiff analysis to find out what items Americans associate the most with the United States of America.

As it turns out, apple pie and baseball are really not highly associated with the United States, falling below our other two national symbols: bald eagles and guns. Now it may have been a different story if the eagle was eating apple pie while shooting a baseball from its nest.

And while July 4th might be over, it turns out it’s never far from our hearts and minds. Compared to the rest of the list, Americans overwhelmingly associate the Fourth of July the most with the United States (take that, National Karl Day and National Caesar Salad Day). In fact, America is all about the 3 Fs: Football, Freedom, and the Fourth of July. In case you're looking to get into the bumper sticker business and want to print something scientifically engineered to be popular.

On the other hand, respondents rated items like pollution and colonialism as the second and third least associated with America. At the bottom of the list, apparently the least American thing is being accepting of immigrants so… in your face, Statue of Liberty?

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The Rebrews Are in: Ranking the Best Beer Brands

The year 2023 marks the 500th anniversary of Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law, which mandates that beer is only to be made with four ingredients: malt, hops, yeast, and water. Even non-traditional German beers don’t deviate much from the recipe, typically only swapping malt with rice or maize. So if most beers are relatively similar, do Americans have strong preferences, and, if so, how do consumers choose between brands?

Over the past three months, consumers are most likely to have purchased Corona (17%), Bud Light (12%), and Heineken (11%). Not only is Corona the most purchased beer in that time span, but it’s also America’s favorite beer, preferred by 8% of consumers. Maybe this is America’s way of saying they miss the pandemic—the golden age of drinking alone.

When it comes to brand loyalty, Corona and Bud Light drop down the list of top beers like the alien-looking sediment on the bottom of an unfiltered IPA. Based on net promoter scores, Guinness (9.2) and Samuel Adams (9.1) head to the top of America’s favorite beers. With many Americans recommending beers they don’t prefer to buy, it feels as if these consumers made some oath to the first beer they ever drank. Or maybe beer drinkers are cleverly promoting beers they don’t like to ensure the tap on their actual favorite beer never runs dry.

Americans’ surprisingly complex relationship with their beers raises the question: What’s most important to consumers when choosing between beers? When it comes to purchasing beer, the most important attribute consumers look for in a brand is its sense of humor, followed by an easy-drinking beer and “cool” factor. Are buyers looking for a BFF (beer friend forever)? Based on Corona’s popularity, Americans clearly want to be friends with Snoop Dogg and Andy Samberg.

In light of the boycotts directed at Bud Light for featuring a transgender social media influencer in a promotion, we wanted to test how much politics, patriotism, and authenticity actually affect beer sales. While the Pence Pilsner and Ale Franken are sure to pique the interest of thirsty conservatives and liberals, respectively, aligning with consumers’ political values has essentially no effect on purchase rates. For the most part, Americans are unfazed by a beer brand’s patriotism and authenticity. When it comes to beer sales, the only thing that needs to be genuine is the draft. #Miller

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


Billion Dollar Baby

With Meta’s newly-released Threads app already rivaling Twitter’s user base, company heads Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk will settle their business dispute just as the free market intended: a physical altercation inside a cube of interlocking metal.

“I’m up for a cage match if he is lol” is somehow an actual tweet from Musk regarding Zuckerberg, and not a parody account imagining WWE superstar The Undertaker as a teenager. Not to be out-cringed, Zuck replied “Send me location.” Given that the fight might actually happen, we asked the only question there is to ask about the brawling billionaires: Who would win?

Fighting out of the red corner, “unsure” takes the title with a plurality (40%) of Americans ambivalent about who would win. One thing we can be sure about is, regardless of who wins, this clusterzuck of a fight would be embarrassing for everyone involved.

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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