Hysteria or Validated Concern? You Be the Judge.

As of October 19, 2016, there were 4,016 cases of Zika in the continental US. Of these cases, 137 were acquired in the US, and the remaining 3,878 cases were acquired in other countries[1].  Despite the low prevalence, Zika has gained wide media coverage across the US and is seen as a significant threat to many.

Here at BuzzBack, we were interested to find out what residents in the US and Brazil understood with regards to symptoms, transmission and prevention of Zika. According to our study, when asked to select the most severe among a list of outbreaks/pandemics, Zika was a close second to HIV/AIDS, selected by 20% (HIV/AIDS was selected by 24%). This may be surprising, given that HIV/AIDS impacts millions of people in the US[2].

Brazil, on the other hand, has faced far more Zika cases than in the US – over 90,000 new cases reported from January to April 2016 alone[3].  When asked to identify the most severe outbreak/pandemic, 24% listed Zika as their top concern (similar to that of the US) – whereas 44% indicate HIV/AIDS as the most severe.

zika graph

Data collected from PAHO & WHO: http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12390&Itemid=42090&lang=en

While it is not surprising that Zika is particularly top of mind and viewed as relevant at the moment, what is surprising is that (1) the concern in the US appears to be comparable to that of HIV/AIDS – despite having FAR less of an impact and (2) the general concern in the US appears to be comparable to that of Brazil – despite vast prevalence.

By utilizing BuzzBack’s eCollage (a non-lexical, indirect format to reveal personal feelings, using images as metaphors to reduce dependency on rational thoughts), the drivers of concern in the US are identified. The key source of fear in the US is the unknown. Individuals know there is a lot of information on Zika, but they are unsure of what is true or false. They worry about how much the virus will spread, and fear they will not see it coming or would not know they’re infected until it is too late. Not understanding the disease fuels fear – Are there clear signs of infection? Can it be stopped? Is there a cure?

Does Zika warrant this grave concern?  Or is this more of a reflection of people in the US being impacted by heavy media coverage?  Will the media ultimately help give individuals a greater understanding of what Zika is all about? Are there certain organizations (e.g. CDC, WHO) who can help clarify concerns about Zika? Only time will tell…

If this topic interests you, head over to watch our latest webinar which features more insights from our Zika study.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html

[2] In 2014, 44,073 people were newly diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States; in 2012, 1,218,400 people were reported living in the US with HIV; and in 2013 there were an estimated 12,963 HIV/AIDS-related deaths. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/ataglance.html

[3] http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0427/784704-brazil-zika/

St Paddy’s Day or St Patty’s Day?

Are You Celebrating St. Paddy or St. Patty’s Day? If you’re celebrating the latter, you might be giving yourself away as a phony. It is a big pet peeve of any Irish woman or man to see so many people write it wrong, year after year. Patty is a girl’s nickname (think Patricia), while Paddy is short for Pádraig, the Irish version of Patrick.   

Lá fhéile Pádraig!  As an Irish expat living in NYC  it’s a day to be proud of my Irish heritage. But, I am amazed at the sea of green walking along 5th Ave (it’s a lot more laid back in Ireland).

Every year on this day, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade lines up right outside our BuzzBack headquarters and every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. Maybe that’s because, as the the Huffington Post pointed out, “there are 34 million people of Irish descent living in America.”  Which is exactly why it makes sense that St. Patrick’s Day was invented in America, to honor their heritage. To put that large number in perspective, Ireland’s population is approximately 4.2 million.

photo 2photo 4

In anticipation of bagpipes filling the air, we decided to conduct our latest BuzzPoll on this celebratory holiday. We asked 300 U.S. residents if they were planning on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and 70% said yes, but mainly because they like the ritual/fun, not because they’re Irish or religious.

We also found out that half said they’ll eat corned beef & cabbage to celebrate. I’ve been here long enough to know, that’s part of the tradition. But, did you know that Irish people in Ireland traditionally don’t eat corned beef and cabbage? We eat bacon and cabbage.

So, are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Are you wearing green? Are you even Irish? Tell us in the comments below.

Have an idea for a BuzzPoll? Tell us about it!

Gluten-Free: Consumer Perceptions Sneak Peek

In case you missed it, The New York Times ran a great article just last week that covered the great gluten-free craze taking companies, marketers and consumers by storm. What started out as a need-based diet for a small percentage of consumers who have Celiac Disease or are sensitive to gluten, has since catapulted into a category expected to generate over $15 billion in 2016. As consumer perceptions that a gluten-free diet is a healthy lifestyle choice continue to drive this category boom, there is no telling when this upsurge will slow down.

At BuzzBack, we were also interested in consumer perceptions surrounding a gluten-free diet. We will be unveiling new findings from our U.S. and U.K. gluten-free BuzzPoll soon, but we couldn’t let you leave without giving you a little taste. In our U.S. study, top gluten-free products ever purchased are breads, pastas, cereals, cookies & crackers and seasoned snack foods (i.e. chips).  Top unaided brands mentioned are Glutino and Udi’s – mentioned in the article as being purchased by Boulder Brands in 2011 and 2012 – and proving to be a smart business move, since “sales of Udi’s and Glutino were up 50 percent last year.”

So what do you think: is going against the grain a sustainable health trend, or will another development in health and nutrition soon take its place?

Have an idea for a BuzzPoll? Let us know!


Busting Beauty Myths

What drives women’s perceptions of their own appearance? With the current controversy surrounding celebrity airbrushing and excessive media-driven ideals on female self-image, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the modern woman constantly judges herself against these unrealistic standards of perfection.

We conducted an extensive beauty study that reveals while it’s true how women look is inextricably bound up with how they feel inside, the majority are far more inwardly focused than popular perception would have us believe. The standards women drive themselves to live up to are internal ones – not forced upon them by others, but springing from the fact that women are their own harshest critics.

Our findings suggest that women in the UK and US don’t want to think of beauty as hard work. They are likely to describe their personal style as “casual” and to see beautifying themselves as an integral part of life, to be woven around the rest of their day-to-day activities. For most women, there simply isn’t time to do otherwise. The overwhelming feeling coming from the women we surveyed, particularly in the UK, is one of chaos, over-work and “burn-out”. With such busy schedules, personal appearance inevitably slips down the list of priorities, and again, it’s women’s own self-perceptions that suffer as a result. Weight is an enduring issue, and one that many express a desire to address. Although, with so little time to do so, it’s easy for them to end up feeling impotent and frustrated.

With this in mind, it makes sense that the ultimate beauty goal for modern women isn’t a perfectly proportioned figure or a head-turning look that attracts the admiration of others, but to feel content and comfortable in their own skin. To achieve this, physical appearance has to work hand in hand with mental – and, particularly in the US, even spiritual – satisfaction. In order to maintain a relaxed and healthy attitude towards their appearance, it’s crucial for women to avoid obsessing and to recognize its place in their lives, which comes way down the list after factors such as health, family and relationships. In China, our survey reveals a slightly different picture. Chinese women, it seems, tend to have a stricter and more rigorous approach to beauty which is more externally focused than their Western equivalents. They care more about the public face they present, and want to appear elegant and groomed. The way they see beauty as a whole is less physical than holistic. For them, being beautiful on the outside showcases their determination to integrate mind, body and soul – all these elements working together to create happiness.

How a woman feels about beauty can have a huge impact on how she thinks and feels – and often negatively. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense that the central function that beauty brands must perform in order to correspond to what these women want is to make them feel better about themselves. Women today don’t expect miracles, or dramatic transformation, from their beauty products. They want efficient, effective and convenient ways to optimize their potential. In a way, beauty products themselves are subordinate – women’s self-perceptions being determined largely by how they feel they look, rather than how they actually look on an objective scale – but the purchasing of them represents a woman’s dedication and effort to the cause.

Suffering to be beautiful? Maybe – but for women today, it seems the rewards are worth the effort.

Click here for more information on our Exploring Beauty study.

Health Checkup: Comparing US & UK Health Care

There has been a lot of talk about health care recently. The Affordable Care Act in the US continues to make headlines almost every day as the government is still trying to get everything in place for the December 23rd enrollment deadline. And, the US is not the only health care system going through some changes. The recent overhaul of the NHS has been one of the most controversial reforms the UK government has pursued.

So we decided to give these two health care systems the once over. We examined patient concerns and how they feel about the changes. Our thorough checkup also covers healthy diets, safety and wellness, online medical records, and how patients choose their physician.

Even though these two systems are vastly different, patients in both countries agree on some points: childhood obesity is top of mind, diets they deem as unhealthiest and less than half of women are comfortable with their medical records online. To help you visualize some of these patient concerns we’ve created two infographics for a side by side comparison.

US & UK Healthcare




Lost in Translation

So you think you speak English, eh? Depends on which side of the pond you’re on. Here’s a handy guide that’s been making its rounds on the internet for the past few years. And while no one seems to know exactly who to attribute it to, I’ve spotted it here and here.

I have to admit, I did have a bit of a laugh when I read this as I’m originally from Ireland and I concede, I have been guilty of a few of these sayings myself. So, if you’re not used to the Brit’s use of snarky wit, self-deprecating humor and penchant for making vast understatements this guide might be able to help you read between the lines.