Britain could be “on the cusp of a consumer research revolution”, an expert has suggested.

Polls ahead of last week’s general election had all pointed towards a hung parliament, with no party winning an overall majority.

However, the Conservatives ultimately secured a majority of 12 – prompting much soul-searching and reflection from pollsters who had got it wrong.

Rich Wilson, chief marketing officer at Relative Insight, believes the election could “prove to be the tipping point” and lead to the adoption of more advanced research methods in the future.

For instance, he said that researchers who are examining social media activity might start looking beyond simple metrics such as shares, retweets and likes.

“We need to look at what people say, rather than just that they’re saying something,” Mr Wilson commented.

He suggested that another problem lies in the fact that traditional polling is out of date and often unscientific.

For example, he noted that survey-based approaches depend on individuals being able to interpret their answer as a number on a scale.

However, Mr Wilson said this is rather subjective, as “one person’s ‘eight’ on a scale of one to ten can quite easily be another’s ‘six'”.

Furthermore, he pointed out that while focus groups can be “useful for testing new innovation”, they are “fundamentally unscalable”.

As a result, they can only be representative of a small group and do not consider factors such as conversation leaders and conversation followers.

Mr Wilson added that pre-election polls also fail to take into account the possibility that people often vote tactically on election day, rather than in line with their actual views.

“So a voter might be Green at heart, but put a cross for the Labour candidate as he or she has the best chance in their constituency,” Mr Wilson said.

General Election proves consumer research must change, Marketing

Posted by Robin McCrink