Tag Archives: marketing

Confidence limits: polling organisations’ failures undermine market research credibility more widely


Things are hotting up in the opinion research environment. The climate of opinion about those who measure our opinions is undergoing significant change.

It’s an inconvenient truth, but the debacle of the UK’s May 2015 General Election casts a long shadow over research in related sectors, like marketing.

How could so many eminent polling organisations fail so spectacularly in their fundamental task?

Nobody likes to dampen the enthusiasm of the researcher, of course, and I may be a sample of one, but nowadays I can’t help wondering whether some or all of the forecasts she presents about brand awareness are worth the electronic paper they’re written on. And have attitudes to the client’s brand really changed that much, after that fairly low weight TV campaign?

Accusations of ‘herding’ have been roundly dismissed. 93.5% of polling organisations, when questioned, spontaneously replied that herding had not influenced the results of their polls. Which is quite comforting.

And it’s good to know that they’ll be changing their methods. Far too technical a topic for my little brain to understand, but it’s something to do with unrepresentative samples. So at least they’ve managed to identify the source of the problem. Good that the experts are now on the case.

Forecasting has never been an exact science, of course. Weatherman Michael Fish‘s “Don’t worry there isn’t …” response to predictions of the devastating 1987 hurricane still echoes in many memories.

But with the accumulated statistical knowledge and sophisticated computer systems that are now available, we can surely be forgiven for expecting a degree or two more accuracy in such an important sector?



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What’s in a brand? Well, let me spell it out …

“QUINQUIREME of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine”.

That’s the first verse of that lovely poem, Cargoes, by John John_Masefield_D004Masefield, of course. He conjures up the exotic appearance and atmosphere of the historic trading vessel, the quinquireme (which had five levels of oars), and goes on to compare and contrast it with a “stately Spanish galleon” and a “dirty British coaster”.

Ophir lends the poem particular interest. It seems to be such a mysterious place, famed for its “stones of gold”, its precise location remaining the subject of much scholarly and archaeological debate. Was it in Africa? Was it near the Red Sea? Was it in Pakistan? Or maybe even Peru? There are many references to it in the Bible and, aside from its appearance in Masefield, it is best known as the destination of an expedition by King Solomon to bring back gold and precious stones.

Solomon got on very well with the Queen of Sheba. After all the talk of trading had been completed, I daresay they sat down and had a tipple – maybe a snifter of gin or two? Except that they wouldn’t have done, because gin probably wasn’t invented until the seventeenth century in Holland.

But perhaps it’s little wonder that when Greenall’s were looking for a brand name for a new product, they saw great potential in that evocative place. opihrbottleIndeed, as their press release at the time (October 3rd, 2013) says: “This new style of London Dry Gin is naturally flavoured with exotic botanicals carefully selected by Opihr’s Master Distiller, from countries along the ancient Spice Route. The hand-picked spices include coriander from Morocco, black pepper from India and cubeb berries from Indonesia. These botanicals are then infused in high quality grain spirit from one of England’s oldest distilleries, to create a unique spiced gin”.

Checking on Google, I discover that when I type the word “Ophir” into the search box, a total of 6,800,000 results are delivered. When I type in “Opihr”, I see the figure has dropped somewhat to 34,400. Investigating as many of the 34,400 as time allows, I find that all the references relate to Greenall’s inestimable new spirit.

Anyway, as I watched someone having a glass of Opihr in my local the other night, replacing his tumbler on the dirty British coaster on the table in front of him, the thought occurred to me that it really doesn’t matter that they’d spelt the name wrong. We kind of get the general drift.

Personally I’m a great fan of Lonon Dry Gin. I think Grenall’s is a terrific company.

And quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to rock the boat …



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