The Ambivalent Traveler, The Universal Snacker, Etc. takes

So much for the locals. In a Gourmet survey about Americans’ travel habits, 54 percent of respondents said they enjoy “mingling with the local residents of destinations.” Granted, that’s a majority, but it’s striking that nearly half of those polled couldn’t bring themselves to endorse this bromide. One is reminded of the caricatured British traveler of yore who felt “abroad” would be so much nicer if it weren’t populated by foreigners. In other respects, though, the survey found an adventurous streak among its respondents (adults who’ve taken at least two leisure trips of five days or more in the past year). Sixty percent said they like to try new foods when they travel;73 percent like to have “new and different” travel experiences.” The Internet plays a key role, with 75 percent of these footloose souls saying they’ve used it to help plan or book trips in the past year.

When you buy a snack at a store, do you start with a product category in mind? According to research by Information Resources Inc., you’re more likely to focus on product attributes that cut across categories—e.g., “better-for-you, private label, or saltyversus sweet.” Marketers must look beyond their immediate competition, says the research firm, and consider their standing in what IRI deliciously terms the “broader snacking universe.”

Why should Californians support their workers’-compensation system? A campaign for the State Compensation Insurance Fund (via Gardner Geary Coll of San Francisco)suggests it’ll spare them all sorts of menial tasks—for instance, waiting on themselves at restaurants. Another ad shows a hotel-room doorknob bearing a notice that says, “Please make up your own room.” The theme is that the fund helps get workers back on the job and (with its prevention programs) helps forestall other injuries. If it means magazine readers needn’t write their own ad copy, it’s worth every penny.

Our cows aren’t mad (yet), but our cattlemen are despondent. A poll conducted for the Minneapolis Star Tribune finds 44 percent of Minnesotans saying they now eat less beef than five years ago. Fear of mad-cow disease seems to be a factor, though an even higher number of the state’s consumers (48 percent) made the same claim in a 1992 poll—long before cows started going off the deep end. In any event, it’s maddening for beef producers. The newspaper quotes the head of the State Cattlemen’s Association on the topic: “It’s frustrating, because it seems like confidence in beef was up in the last year.” The survey also found nearlyone-quarter of Minnesotans unsure of whether foot-and-mouth and mad-cow are different diseases—a confusion likely to complicate life for marketers of all meats.

If kids pester their parents to buy your brand, will the parents succumb? An online poll by Parent Soup gives some indication with respect to clothing. Asked whether their kids “insist on the latest brand names and fashions,” 6 percent of respondents said, “Yes, and it’s getting expensive.” A more strong-willed 28 percent said, “Sometimes, but I don’t always give in,” while 10 percent answered, “If they want the more expensive brand, they have to pay for it.” The other 56 percent responded, “No, my kids are fine with whatever I buy for them.”