Opinion: Poll of the Week-Style Research Smacks of a Lack of Expertise

Article excerpt

There is no greater gift to a marketer than good market research.

When research is conducted and interpreted correctly, the data can be used as a guide, a weapon and a source of continual insight.

It is a pity, therefore, that many marketers are uncomfortable with the methods, analyses and numbers that are intrinsic to the execution of successful market research.

Last week, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) highlighted the differences between the media's portrayal of the railway network and the 'reality' with a survey of 2000 passengers that found 62% had a great deal or some confidence in the industry.

Where to begin with this remarkable announcement? Is the sample demographically and geographically representative of the total railway consumer base?

Is 62% meeting or exceeding the stated goals of the SRA? Is this an increase or a decrease from previous surveys? Most damning of all, what made the SRA think that it could conflate two entirely different categories - 'a great deal of confidence' and 'some confidence' - together?

If this is the best data that the SRA can rely on, we are left with one of two explanations. Either the SRA has no idea how to conduct, analyse and present market data or is deliberately mixing apples and oranges in a desperate attempt to give its data a more positive spin. Unfortunately, the SRA is merely part of the growing trend of organisations which release research results to offer some market insights and communicate their marketing expertise. The steady stream of these 'poll of the week' articles that appear in the popular press have had the opposite effect. …