A Global Look at the Daily Grind

A Global Look at the Daily Grind

A new study by BBDO Worldwide yields a treasure trove of data about how everyday routines vary across the world

By Douglas MacMillan with Diane Brady

You brush your teeth, take a shower, and have a cup of coffee each morning. But have you ever wondered if people in other parts of the world are locked in the same routines? New York-based advertiser BBDO Worldwide set out to answer questions like these in its 2007 survey, “The Ritual Builders.” The study gathered responses from 5,000 people in 25 countries to questions based on five categories of the daily routine: “preparing for battle” (the morning ritual), “feasting” (self-explanatory), “sexing up” (primping), “returning to camp” (going home), and “preparing for the future” (the ritual before bed).

There's loads of info for businesses. By understanding people's rituals, labeled in the survey as “a defined series of actions that helps us transform from one emotional state to another,” companies may better understand how to build their products or services into a consistent part of consumers' everyday life. Most everyone uses soap, for example, but a shower gel aimed at Polish consumers might emphasize relaxing qualities, since 84% of them shower at night. A more invigorating message might work better with the 92% of Mexicans who shower or bathe in the morning.

This BusinessWeek slideshow looks at the survey's most interesting findings, comparing global averages to U.S. averages, as well as the countries occupying the extremes.


What do you do in the morning?

Most individuals have a complex, morning ritual lasting one hour or less. Almost everyone brushes their teeth, but only about half of male respondents shave, and about half of female respondents put on makeup.

82% brush teeth
74% take shower/bath
74% have something to eat/drink
54% talk to family members/partner
53% males shave
47% females put on makeup






Brushing Your Teeth

Do you brush when you get up? Your dentist says you should. But the percentage of people who do varies widely by country. A sampling:

Global average: 82%
U. S.: 90%
Canada: 83%
Mexico: 89%
Columbia: 79%
Brazil: 94%
India: 86%
China: 66%
Japan: 88%
Indonesia: 52%
Australia: 84%








How many activities are in your morning ritual (by country)?

 How many things do you need to do before you head out the door in the morning? Your answer may depend on where you live. Indians have the most activities in the morning, with an average of nearly 10. They use the time to exercise, converse, read, e-mail, pray, and more. Russians are the least active, with an average of 4.6 activities in the morning. The global average is 7.1, with the U. S. slightly above and Britain slightly below.

 India – 9.5
China – 8.8
U.S. – 7.9
Britain – 6.9
France – 5.9
Russia – 4.6










Do you have a sequence in your morning ritual (by country)?

 On average, 79% of individuals in the world have a morning sequence, and 69% get irritated when their routine is disrupted. The morning sequence is most important to the Chinese, and least important to Canadians. The Chinese are the most likely to be bothered by disruptions, with 92% saying they're irritated when their sequence is interrupted. Colombians are the least rigid, with only 50% saying they are irritated by such changes.

 China – 96%
India – 90%
U.S. – 83%
Mexico – 82%
Britain — 75%
Canada – 64%











What do you do during your commute?

Listening to music is the most popular commuting ritual in all countries surveyed-except Japan, where reading is slightly higher. Only 8% of Americans read on the way to work – the lowest of any country surveyed.

  65% listen to music/radio
28% read a book/newspaper/magazine
27% talk on the phone
17% eat
10% e-mail
8% exercise




 Some 34% of all meals in world are eaten at home, followed by restaurants (21%), work (20%), fast food (18%), and cars (7%). Americans eat the most meals at home (29%), but go to restaurants more than any other country (27%).

Some other findings:
Spain and France have the highest percentage of meals eaten at home, at 42%
The U.S. has the highest percentage of meals eaten in restaurants, at 27%
Denmark has the highest percentage of meals eaten at work, at 26%
Indonesia has the highest percentage of fast food meals eaten, at 24%
Saudi Arabia has the highest percentage of meals eaten in a car, at 12%




Sexing Up

What day do you have sex?

 In all countries surveyed, sex is predominantly a weekend ritual.

Sunday – 9%
Monday – 1%
Tuesday – 1%
Wednesday – 1%
Thursday – 3%
Friday – 10%
Saturday – 31%



Sexing Up

How often do you have sex by appointment (by country)?

 On average, only 9% of respondents prearranged the days the have sex, meaning it's by and large a spontaneous ritual. However, China is a considerable outlier in this category – admitting to sex by appointment more than three times as much as the next country on the list, Brazil.

China – 41%
Brazil – 12%
India – 11%
Britain – 7%
U.S. – 7%
Russia – 3%



Returning to Camp

How many activities are in your evening ritual (by country)?

 Brazilians perform the most activities when they get home from work, using the time to bathe, shave, brush teeth, and change clothes more than other countries. Americans have 5.1 behaviors in their evening ritual, slightly lower than the global average of 5.8. The Danes have the fewest activities, with 4.6.

Brazil – 7.9
China – 7.1
India – 6.1
Britain – 5.5
U.S. – 5.1
Denmark – 4.6








Preparing Yourself for the Future

What do you do at the end of the day?

 For most people, the winding-down period of the day stretches over about four hours and is less structured than other times. A majority of survey respondents end their day watching TV or listening to the radio.

66% watch TV/listen to radio
57% talk to family members/partner
56% have something to eat/drink
53% brush teeth
39% surf the Web
24% feed the family/pet





Protecting Yourself For The Future

Brushing Teeth

How many people brush their teeth at night? Again, the answer varies widely by country

 U.S.: 48%
China: 40%
Brazil: 69%
Japan: 69%
India: 60%
Mexico: 65%
U.K.: 47%
France: 49%
Germany: 65%
Russia: 31%
Saudi Arabia: 44%




Preparing Yourself for the Future

Do you have a sequence in your nighttime ritual (by country)?

On average, 43% of individuals in the world have a nighttime sequence, almost half as much as have a morning sequence. Nighttime routines are most important to the Chinese and least important to the Japanese.

 China – 92%
India – 68%
Mexico – 47%
U.S. – 39%
Britain – 34%
Japan – 29%


























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