In a dramatic and sometimes baffling year, what did Americans truly love? We used SurveyMonkey Audience to ask more than 700 people to vote on the media, events, products, and services that stuck with them most over the past year. Our survey covered everything from trendy foods to superhero movies to new innovations in technology.
Number one mobile app: YouTube
When respondents were asked which app they couldn’t live without, 30% said YouTube, which beat out Facebook, Google Maps, Amazon, and Instagram, among others. But that preference shifts dramatically depending on who you ask.
Women generally prefer Facebook (33% vs. 21% who picked YouTube), while men almost reverse that distribution: 35% selected YouTube, and only 18% chose Facebook as their #1 app.
Additionally, in households with a combined income of over 100K per year (just over a quarter of our total sample size), Google Maps is decidedly the most favored app (37%) beating the next most popular, YouTube (23%). This could be a reflection of higher-income households’ ability to purchase a car, travel more extensively, explore new restaurants and neighborhoods, or afford other types of video content.
Answer options were provided from a list of the top apps from the Apple App Store.
Most bingeable TV series: The Haunting of Hill House
In the most divisive question of our survey, The Haunting of Hill House pulled a slim majority as Americans’ most addictive TV show, with 12% of respondents selecting it as a favorite. The show may have benefitted from the novelty factor, having premiered this October, while competing options like The Good Place (which ranked #2 with 11.5%) are a couple of years old.
More niche shows like Maniac and American Vandal each won less than 2% of the vote, despite high scores on Google rankings and Rotten Tomatoes.
Answer options were provided from a list of the most popular shows of the year on Rotten Tomatoes.
Best new song: “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
The British singer’s song apparently lives up to its flawless name in the eyes of the American public. 22% of respondents said that “Perfect” was the best song of the year, with Drake’s “God’s Plan” pulling a distant second, with only 12% of the votes.
Answer options were provided from a list of radio's top songs of the year.
Best superhero movie of 2018: Avengers, Infinity War
Marvel’s crossover saga continued won the majority vote, with Black Panther coming in a very close second (28% of respondents chose Avengers, 27% picked Black Panther).
Most widely-tried food trend: Avocado toast
Viral food trends have been around since the sriracha and cronut fanaticism of the early 2010’s. 2018 was no exception, and the stereotypical millennial staple avocado toast was the most universally tried food, with 32.7% of respondents having at least sampled the brunch snack. Rolled ice cream came next (29.3%) while ancient grains (like spelt, amaranth, kamut, and lupin) were the least popular with only 15% of respondents having tried any.
West coasters were far more likely to have tried newish (to the mainstream U.S. population) Asian foods like poké (35% had tried it, vs.16% of the population at large) and kimchi (43% vs. 23%). They were also the most likely to have eaten avocado toast, with 45% having
By contrast, respondents from southern regions were much more focused on dessert. 33% had tried rolled ice cream and 25% had eaten cream-filled croissants—fitting preferences for a region famous for its sweet tea.
Answer options were provided from a list of trendiest foods of the year, based on reports by Whole Foods and The National Restaurant Association.
Most important sports event: the 2018 Super Bowl
It seems to have been either an underwhelming Olympic year or dramatic year in sports overall: only 25% of respondents considered the winter games in PyeongChang more important than single-sport events like the Eagles winning the Super Bowl or France’s World Cup victory. (The Super Bowl won 27% of respondents’ vote as the most important event of the season.)
Unsurprisingly, when we filtered for people from New England, 70% of respondents considered the Red Sox winning the world series to be the most impactful sports news of the year (and we’re guessing that a strong portion of that respondent pool might have listed it as the most important news of the year, in general.)
Answer options were provided from a list of top stories from the subreddit r/sports.
Most exciting new technology: self-driving cars
In May, SurveyMonkey teamed up with Axios on a national poll about self-driving cars, in which people expressed reservations about the technology. 65% of the 2,586 people we polled said that they did not see themselves buying a self-driving car, and less than 40% of respondents said that they’d feel very safe, safe, or even somewhat safe as a passenger in a self-driving car.
Those present concerns aside, it’s clear that people are still excited about the technology in the abstract. 35% of people think that it is the most exciting emerging technology in 2018—more so than virtual reality, wearables (fitbits, smartwatches, etc.), or cryptocurrency. Regardless of whether people see self-driving cars as an option for themselves in the immediate future, they’re clearly interested in seeing where society takes them.
Most followed news stories: Thailand cave rescue & legal cannabis
The exact same number of people—50%— followed reporting on various cannabis legalization initiatives. Canada made recreational use of marijuana legal in 2018 (becoming the largest country to do so nationwide), and nine U.S. states did the same.
Other news items that captured public attention:
Answer options were provided from a list of top stories on Reddit’s r/worldnews.
2018 in three words
2018 was a highly political year, with dozens of divisive issues and polarized individual experiences. The words our respondents chose to sum up the year reflect that duality, with an almost even split between positive and negative words. Check out our word cloud of the most common phrases below and draw your own conclusions, but the last two words seem to sum up the consensus nicely: 2018 was totally strange.
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