Critical Beer Drinkers, Confident Eaters, Etc.

They like the beer better than the ads, evidently. In polling by Mintel, just 31 percent of respondents who bought beer in the past 30 days said they “like how the beer they drink is advertised in the media.” In other words, they bought the beer despite its ads. (And people say brand loyalty is dead!) Does this mean a brand’s sales would rise if it stopped advertising altogether? It’s too scary a thought to entertain, though the rise of lightly advertised microbrews and imports might lend some credence to it. As it happens, the same report saw domestic beer faring poorly, as consumers turn to other alcoholic-beverage options. Volume sales of imported beer rose 27 percent during the past five years, even as volume sales of regular domestic beer fell 19 percent. “The exceptions to the rule lie in premium, craft, regional, seasonal and specialty brews, which show gains,” says the report. In tandem with the gains by imports, this suggests that beer drinkers are “trading up.” In the past two years, the only major domestic segment showing growth has been light beer, which now accounts for nearly 60 percent of all domestic-beer sales by volume. (It sounds oddly reminiscent of domestic automakers’ reliance on SUVs.) Even here, though, Mintel foresees trouble for mainstream domestic brewers as new imported light beers catch on.

There you are, minding your own business, when a pollster phones to ask whether you’re feeling stressed. Even if you weren’t before the phone rang, you likely will be upon hearing the question. As such, we may take with a grain of salt the many surveys that find stress is the default condition of modern life. Anyhow, the most recent of these, by Ipsos Public Affairs, finds 39 percent of adults saying they “frequently” experience stress in their daily lives, with another 36 percent doing so “sometimes.” Eighteen percent “rarely” feel such stress, while an enviable (if oblivious) 7 percent “never” do. Lest you think a majority of adults feel they’re careening into the abyss, though, the poll also asked people how often they feel “your life is beyond your control.” A majority said they rarely (32 percent) or never (30 percent) feel this way; 24 percent sometimes do. Just 14 percent frequently feel their lives are beyond their control.

No doubt it’s a stage they’ll outgrow. But when a commercial comes on while they’re viewing TV, 57 percent of 6-11-year-olds watch it. So says a poll by Mediamark Research Inc. However, it also reports that “relatively few are interested in advertising that helps them learn about new products.” Humor is the element in advertising that most appeals to kids, with music the runner-up.

No wonder people want big kitchens. A survey conducted for the Hearst Home Group asked its respondents (mainly women with spouses and children) to cite the activities for which they use their kitchens. Seventy-two percent said they use the kitchen for entertaining guests; 32 percent have their kids do homework there; 30 percent use it when paying bills. Some of them even cook there from time to time. People are keen on having high-quality kitchen appliances, though perhaps not as much so as you might guess. Asked to choose between “a romantic weekend with a spouse/significant other” and “winning a new top-of-the-line kitchen appliance,” 51 percent opted for the romantic weekend.

They’re fun to watch, and their personal lives don’t end up in the tabloids. Hence the popularity of animals. Forty-eight percent of Americans visited a zoo or aquarium in the year before being queried, finds a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Exploratorium, a science museum and education center in San Francisco. More broadly, 26 percent went to a natural-history museum during that period, 23 percent to a science or technology museum and 14 percent to a planetarium. Sixty-five percent have gone online to access more information about a scientific topic they’d first heard of offline—in front of the monkey cages, say.

Here’s proof that online purchasing is not exclusive to fresh-faced youth. In a W magazine survey of affluent women (household income of $100,000-plus, average age of 47), 14 percent reported buying anti-aging skin-care products via the Internet. Seven percent have bought hair-care products online, and three times as many have bought color cosmetics that way.

What’s a little E. coli among friends? In Gallup polling fielded after the onset of the latest E. coli scare, 87 percent of adults said they’re confident the food available at most grocery stores is safe; 74 percent said the same about the food at most restaurants. That’s on a par with the responses Gallup has gotten over the years in polls on this topic. However, the percentage of people who pay attention to food warnings and nutritional recommendations has jumped from 56 percent in 2003 to 71 percent in the new poll. The survey also asked respondents whether they actively try to include certain foods in their diets or actively try to avoid them. The chart here excerpts those findings. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they “actively try to avoid” salt, which is in bad repute these days amid an epidemic of high blood pressure. As you can see from the chart, though, nearly one-fourth of adults deliberately seek out the stuff. Carb-seekers, meanwhile, now outnumber carb-avoiders, with just 25 percent placing themselves in the latter camp. Finally, let us salute the intrepid 5 percent of respondents who make a special effort to include trans fats in their diets. (Sixty-four percent make a point of avoiding that artery-clogging substance.) If there’s a reversal in medical opinion on the health effects of trans fats—and stranger things have happened—these contrarians will have the last laugh.