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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Category: Market Research
May 24, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Seattle No. 2 for sunscreen use–and No. 1 for wishful thinking

Photo: Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

Photo: Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

It’s your typical spring morning in Seattle.  Skies look gray.  Forecast calls for cool temperatures and periods of light rain throughout the day.  Throughout the week, in fact.

You’re prepared, though. You always dress in layers.  Your outerwear has the latest water-resistant finish.  And of course, before you’re out the door, you slather yourself in sunscreen.


That’s right.  New data reveal that, despite the persistent atmospheric gloom here, Seattleites are among the most dedicated sunscreen users in the United States.


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Weather

May 14, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Study: Washington the least foul-mouthed state in the U.S.


Cloud halo forms over Mt. Rainier (Photo: Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times)

Your mother would be proud.

According to a new study, folks from Washington are less likely to use obscenities that anybody else in the country.

The study, conducted by Seattle-based mobile-advertising firm Marchex, took a novel approach.  Using speech-recognition technology known as “call mining,” the company gathered data from recorded telephone calls between customers and businesses around the U.S.  Conversations were scanned for polite words, like “please” and “thank you,” as well as curse words (use your imagination).


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: language

May 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

What is Seattle’s top beer-loving neighborhood?


Brouwer’s Cafe in Fremont (Photo: Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times)

Seattle Beer Week is in full swing, with an extensive schedule of events celebrating the craft of brewing in our region.  And when it comes to quality beers, Seattleites know their stuff.  In fact, we rank just a fraction behind No. 1 Portland for the percentage of folks who drink microbrews, according to Scarborough Research.

But in this beer-loving town, who loves beer most of all?

To find out, I analyzed the beer-buying habits of residents in 76 Seattle neighborhoods using Experian market data.  After ranking the neighborhoods in three categories, enumerated below, I tallied the scores to determine the overall winner.


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: alcohol, beer

May 6, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Survey: Seattleites show no love for Chinese restaurants

OysterpailBig buzz in Seattle foodie circles: renowned restaurant Din Tai Fung will open a new location at University Village later this year, according to The Seattle Times.  The Taiwanese chain, famous for its Shanghai-style soup dumplings, already has a branch in Bellevue that is always packed.  The new location will probably have long waits, too, but at least Seattleites won’t have to cross the bridge to get their “xiao long bao” fix in the future.


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: food, restaurants

April 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM

How do folks who buy flowers feel about gay marriage?


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Why would a business owner turn away paying customers in these hard economic times?  For one Washington florist, it’s because of Jesus.

Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, refused to create floral arrangements for the wedding of a same-sex couple because of what she said was her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”  Now she’s being sued by the state for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, which is illegal in Washington.

Since Jesus never speaks specifically about homosexuality in the Bible, how he might have felt about gay marriage is a matter of conjecture.


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: gay rights, marriage

March 21, 2013 at 6:10 AM

Support for gay marriage: How does Seattle rank?

The results of two national polls showing growing acceptance of same-sex marriage were released this week.   But we certainly don’t need a poll to tell us that the Seattle area supports marriage equality — after all, we voted for it.  In last November’s election, Referendum 74 to approve same-sex marriage passed by 67 percent in King County and 53 percent in Snohomish County.

But just how strong is our level of support compared with other parts of the country?

In surveys of more than 200,000 Americans conducted between October 2011 and September 2012 — slightly before voters here approved Ref. 74 — the Seattle area ranked sixth out of 79 metropolitan areas for the percentage of adults who showed some level of support for gay marriage.

The map below illustrates the metro areas with the 10 highest and 10 lowest levels of support.  Roll your mouse over the circles to see the data:


Comments | More in Demographics, Market Research | Topics: gay, marriage

March 18, 2013 at 6:35 AM

Reality TV loves Seattle, but does Seattle love reality TV?

Seattle's Jinkx Monsoon on RuPaul's Drag Race

Seattle’s Jinkx Monsoon on Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Reality TV has embraced Seattle this season.  No sooner had the crew of “Top Chef: Seattle”  packed their knives and gone than last week’s big news broke: local graphic designer/vegan blogger Catherine Giudici won the coveted final rose on “The Bachelor.”  Meanwhile — and surely attracting a different audience demographic than “The Bachelor” — Seattle actor and drag performer Jinkx Monsoon (aka Jerick Hoffer) is a current frontrunner on the Logo network’s hit show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”  And as if that weren’t enough, Yanni’s Greek restaurant in Phinney Ridge received a Gordon Ramsay “Kitchen Nightmares” makeover on last Friday’s episode.

Clearly, reality TV loves Seattle — but do we love it back?


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Tacoma, Television

March 12, 2013 at 5:00 AM

The long and short of gray hair: Is it true Seattle women never dye?

Seattle finally got its Portlandia moment last summer with the publication of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” the comedic best-seller (and upcoming movie) by Maria Semple.  The book’s main character, Bernadette — a recent transplant to Seattle from Los Angeles — has nothing but disdain for her adopted hometown.  She skewers Seattleites as a polar-fleece-clad, smugly progressive bunch of elitists.  And she finds the women here to be styleless and drab.  Of all Bernadette’s scathing wisecracks about Seattle, this one was probably the most-often repeated in book reviews:

There are two hairstyles here: short gray hair and long gray hair.  You go into a salon asking for color, and they flap their elbows and cluck, “Oh goody, we never get to do color!”

It’s a funny joke, but how true is it?  Compared with women in other cities, are Seattle women more likely to stay gray after they go gray?


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: beauty, Hair

March 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Is daylight saving time costing you more than just sleep?


Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

When we set our clocks ahead tonight, will we be setting back the Seattle-Tacoma area by millions of dollars?  Yes, according to a new study.   The Lost-Hour Economic Index, devised by Chmura Economics & Analytics for, indicates that daylight saving time costs our region $4.2 million, or about $1.20 per person.

While “saving” is right there in the name of daylight saving time, a growing body of evidence suggests that setting our clocks ahead actually comes at a heavy cost.  For example, studies have concluded that the loss of sleep and disruption of our internal “body clock” associated with DST causes a spike in automobile accidents and heart attacks.  Other costs include an increase in workplace accidents and “cyberloafing.”


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: economics, health

March 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Yuck! How common are cockroaches in Seattle?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Danny Westneat’s column in The Seattle Times, former Port Commissioner Rob Holland explains why he resigned from the poorly-paid position: he says he grew tired of scraping by, eating Top Ramen in his “roach-filled apartment.”

Reading that, it struck me — for all the kvetching Seattleites do, one thing I never hear anyone complain about is roaches.  I grew up near New York City, where the roaches are “as big as a Buick,” to quote Woody Allen in Annie Hall.  But in Seattle?  Roaches and other pests don’t seem to be nearly as common.  So I was surprised to read about the roach infestation in Holland’s apartment, and I wondered — how many folks deal with this problem in Seattle?


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Insects

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