The Still-Feel-Good Factor, Those Confident Girls, Etc.

As the economy falters, it stands to reason consumers will feel their standard of living is declining. Then again, marketers know consumers are often unreasonable—or, at least, unpredictable. We get a taste of this in the 2001 installment of the Harris Poll’s Feel Good Index. The number of people who “feel good about” the economy has plunged since 2000, from 68 percent to 47 percent. At the same time, though, the poll detects a rise (from 85 percent to 90 percent) in the number who feel good about their standard of living. Likewise, there’s an uptick in the number feeling good about their “financial security for the future,” from 65 percent to 67 percent, and a similar increase in those who feel good about “the quality of your life overall,” from 91 percent to 94 percent. Why are people so upbeat in the face of lousy economic news? Past experience indicates a lag in perception of the economy. After the recession of the early 1990s, it took until November 1997 before the number of people calling the economy “excellent” or “good” surpassed the total calling it “poor” or “only fair” in Gallup’s regular polling.

Are beer aficionados so steeped in their suds that they’re insensible to beer ads? Not altogether, judging by a report from Euro RSCG Worldwide. While 10 percent of adults in general agreed with the statement, “Great advertising can influence my choice of beer,” 18 percent of “heavy beer drinkers” said the same. On the other hand, 69 percent of the heavy users also declared, “I’ve been entertained by beer commercials but they’ve never made me switch brands.”

Oddest Data of the Month: A Gallup poll finds Americans greatly overestimating thepercentages of the U.S. population that are black or Hispanic. Respondents’ average guess was that the U.S. is 33 percent black and 29 percent Hispanic. (The Census puts the real number for each group at about12 percent.) Fifty-six percent of those polled guessed that blacks compose 30 percent or more of the population; 40 percent thought the same of Hispanics.

What a disappointment girls must be to feminists who want them viewed as victims of the patriarchy. Girls get better grades than boys; they have far fewer brushes with the law; and now, in a survey by The Geppetto Group and LightSpeedResearch.com, they are more likely than boys to say their own gender is the happier one. Thirteen percent of 8-10-year-old boys said boys are happier than girls, while 36 percent of the girls said girls are happier. Majorities of boys and girls alike claimed their own gender is the better one, but girls were more likely than boys to say so (61 percent vs. 54 percent). “Even in the traditionally male strongholds of math and science, girls insist they have equal or better skills—and half the boys agree.”

Baseball’s status as “national pastime” may be shaky, but it’s still more popular than work. So we infer from a Maritz Poll, in which 12.6 percent of adults said they’ve called in sick and snuck off to see a game. Ah, but how would these truants feel if ballplayers stole away from the stadium and spent the afternoon going to meetings in some office?