Magazine article Marketing

Why Real Life Will Always Be Better Than the Survey

Magazine article Marketing

Why Real Life Will Always Be Better Than the Survey

Article excerpt

Mr Baldwin, prime minister when I was born, reviled the press as having "the prerogative of the harlot through the ages: power without responsibility". And jolly good fun it is too, let me tell you.

I became a journalist at 19, after walking out of university because I was bored (more likely too stupid to appreciate the opportunity I had) and became assistant editor of a journal called Cotton - now long dead, but relevant then because we had a cotton industry. Actually, since my callow observations of the workings of the Manchester Cotton Board and similar bodies led me to believe the industry was doomed, maybe I wasn't that stupid. I used to write rude editorials about the American Farm Support policy, an asinine confection which I imagine inspired Europe's even loopier Common Agricultural Policy.

A journalistic maxim states that fact is sacred, whereas comment is free. Often it is also wildly irrelevant, as in a piece I read some time ago on Tesco's Clubcard. The writer was critical of Tesco for spending about [pounds]50m a year bribing customers to stay loyal (an investment which, judging by sales, has paid off splendidly). He judged their plan to use data gleaned at the checkout to target different categories with tailor-made promotions was silly because of the great advances in market research and the use of sample groups over the last 50 years.

I don't know what these great advances are, but he said: "You don't need to interview the whole country to find out what people think of Tony Blair. A sample of just a few thousand is usually deemed sufficient". …

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