Tag Archives: survey

“All men’s stag parties are tame!” says Wedding Planner’s weak survey of not-all-men

July 8th, 2012

Key to getting high-quality, informative data from your market research is to ensure you have a solid representative sample of your consumer base – partly by having a large sample size, and partly by selecting your sample from a broad and unbiased range of demographics.

Here’s an excellent example of how it’s not to be done, from the Daily Mail, June 14th: Are X-rated bachelor parties on the way out?

The rise of low-key grooms who want pre-wedding bashes WITHOUT the strippers It seems that booze-fueled bachelor parties filled with strippers are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

A survey conducted on Tuesday by TheKnot.com, the wedding planning website, found that 61per cent of brides-to-be claim that their fiances are planning ‘low-key’ bachelor parties.

‘Tamer’ dinners and relaxed drinks are proving to be popular options for grooms-to-be these days.

Conducted on the website’s Facebook page, the survey received 61 responses from brides; 37 of them said their fiances didn’t want a wild bachelor event while 24 of them said they did.

Setting aside the ridiculous assumptions that a) stag do’s should involve strippers for them to be ‘real’, and b) stag do’s without strippers are ‘tame’, what we have here is a sweeping statement about the trends and habits of a nation… based on 61 people, surveyed via Facebook poll. This very poll, in fact:

In terms of survey sampling, this is abysmal. Not only is a sample size of 61 respondents too small to be able to assume anything at all, but given that the difference between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ options is just 7 people, it’s extremely unlikely to be reliable. 

Added to that, we have the complications of the vague question wording – what qualifies as tame? And what if the part will involve a ‘tame’ activity and then something more raucous – which option should be ticked? Notice, in fact, that the strippers found in the headline of the Daily Mail aren’t even found in the question. 

Finally, how random is our sample of 61 respondents? Bearing in mind that the survey was conducted on The Knot’s Facebook page, the audience of which is overwhelmingly female. Even the very question isn’t directed at the attendees of the stag party – instead we’re measuring the assumptions and beliefs of 61 women who already subscribe to a wedding planner’s Facebook page, and then extrapolating the response up to be a verdict on the state of the nation.

I have no idea whether in actuality men are visiting strippers more or less commonly on their stag do. But given the shoddy and weak nature of the survey by The Knot, neither do they, and neither do the newspapers running the story.

“Learn the secrets of a good night’s sleep!” says bed linen company

June 10th, 2012

A little while ago (I’ve been busy, OK?), the newspapers were alive with the secrets of how to get a good night’s sleep.

From the Mail:

Drink tea, wear pyjamas and retire at 10pm: The secrets to getting a good night’s sleep

We all know what it is like to have a bad night’s sleep and to start the day feeling tired and grumpy.

But a new survey has revealed the key to sweet dreams – going to bed at 10pm after having a cup of tea in your pyjamas.

And from the Telegraph:

The key to a perfect night’s sleep

The key to a perfect night’s sleep is going to bed at exactly 10pm, wearing pyjamas and enjoying a cup of tea beforehand, according to a poll.

And from the Express:


THE key to a perfect night’s sleep is going to bed at exactly 10pm, wearing pyjamas and enjoying a cup of tea beforehand, it was revealed yesterday.

A survey of 2,000 adults who claim to enjoy an undisturbed sleep every night of the week highlights how they do it.

It shows you should have at least two hours and seven minutes’ rest in the evening after cooking, washing up and doing the chores.

Where might this highly-important information, presented right across our popular press, have come from? Might it be sleep scientists, advising the public for our greater good? Or perhaps some kind of sociological survey?

Nope, it came from bed linen company Bedeck

We can see this for certain, as we can locate the press release their PR firm Camron came up with, having commissioned the survey through our old friends OnePoll. Quickly comparing the three articles with the press release shows just how closely the press release text and listed findings were replicated into the news.

You might think it odd that a bed linen company list the most important factors involved in getting a good night’s sleep, and their bed linen not feature in that list. Herein lies the subtlety of PR – had ‘a nice set of clean set of sheets’ been high on the list, the commercial source of the story would have been far too obvious. However, consider the value in having ‘a good night’s sleep’ subtly linked with the name of this bed linen firm. This is the subtle value of PR.

“People regret smoking!” says quit-smoking product

March 9th, 2012

Regrets? We’ve had a few (our love lives, health, childhoods, finances, smoking and careers…)

We spend three quarters of an hour dwelling on our regrets every week, a study has found.

The most common cause for remorse is not having saved more money, followed by a wish that we had put more effort in at school.

This appeared in the Daily Mail on February 27th, with the taking-the-fun-out-of-it-for-me URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2106983/We-spend-45mins-week-dwelling-regrets—Electric-Zebra-survey.html

Electric Zebra, in case you’re unfamiliar, are a company who produce an electronic substitute cigarette. So that they found that the people they surveyed regretted smoking, is surely no surprise. 

That the Daily Mail gave the game away in the URL, however, is a bit of a surprise. I don’t know if this means I’m winning, or that the Daily Mail want to make this game way too easy for me…

“Men do things usually associated with women!” says product traditionally associated with women

March 8th, 2012

The Daily Mail’s official OnePoll correspondent Maysa Rawi was red hot on the Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V again last week, with the following:

Crying over films, cuddling on the sofa and enjoying bubble baths….It’s the end of the macho man era (and most women prefer it that way)

Modern men have an increasingly soft center, and women prefer it that way. 

The modern man is a big softy who cries over films, likes cuddling on the sofa and enjoys a bubble bath, according to a study

The source of the press release? Ice cream manufacturer Haagen-Dazs, who you’d imagine might have a vested interest in telling the tale that men are soppy, soft and doing things traditionally associated with women… such as eating fancy ice cream in front of a romantic comedy.

It may well be that men are, in fact, engaging in behaviours that are stereotypically female – there’s no reason for them not to be, after all, if that’s what they want to do. However, without seeing the questions asked by Haagen-Dazs, and without seeing the results of the poll, it’s impossible to tell how genuine any of this information actually is. Yet, with the vested interest from the company behind the poll, there’s a significant reason to suspect the questions may well be biased.

In case there was any confusion, here’s the press release on the OnePoll website, which a casual glance shows is perhaps 90% identical to the article which made the Daily Mail.

“Men spend ages in the bathroom!” says bathroom product

February 28th, 2012

Never underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned bait-and-switch. For example, take this story from the Daily Mail last week:

Smartphones replace newspapers as choice of reading material… for men in the toilet

Taking the newspaper to the toilet has long been a proud male preserve.

But now the tech age has affected even this most established of masculine habits.

Instead, Jim Royle types are swapping their tabloids and broadsheets for a smartphone. 

New research shows that men are far more likely to be scrolling through their phone screens than browsing the paper. 

Now one in two men regularly takes their mobile phone into the toilet to surf the internet, compared to just a third who take a newspaper.

So, who might be behind this story? A smartphone manufacturer? A new time-wasting app? Andrex? Nope.

Head and Shoulders – the shampoo made by Proctor and Gamble.

Why would a shampoo have any interest in men’s reading habits on the toilet, you might wonder? The answer is simple enough – they don’t, really, but it makes for a nice headline. Looking at the other stats and stories in the article, it’s clear what the real focus of the poll was:

The new survey, carried out by shampoo brand Head & Shoulders, found that men spend longer in the bathroom than women – 19 minutes compared to 18 minutes on a typical week day.

More than twice as many men as women take two or more showers a day – 19 per cent compared to nine per cent – and men are much more likely than women to regard a loofah and nail scissors as a bathroom essentials.

Geordie men are the cleanest when it comes to bathroom habits, spending 26 minutes in the shower on a typical morning, while men from the north-west spend least time at just 16 minutes.

At weekends, men in London indulge themselves with showers averaging an incredible 31 minutes.

But our motivations for washing are more complex than they might seem – women are more likely to feel showering makes them feel more attractive, while men say a shower makes them feel more productive.

So, what we have is a survey primarily based around shower habits with plenty of datamining to flesh out the bones – showing, for example, the areas where men are ‘cleanest’ because they spend longest in the shower, when common sense dictates that someone had to come top of that list.

However, to not only bury the client behind the survey but also to grab a few extra headlines, there’s a random question about toilet habits thrown in, which is the main hook the press release was based around. Had the toilet angle proven fruitless in the datamining, the PR firm working for Head and Shoulders (called Ketchum) clearly had a back-up plan, in the form of a trusted celebrity angle:

As an escape from the daily routine, one in five men thinks about singer Cheryl Cole in the shower, while women are most likely to think about Hollywood star Johnny Depp while washing. Scottish and Northern Irish women are particularly keen on Gary Barlow.

So there we have it – a classic bait and switch, and a great example of a press release masquerading as news.

“People don’t understand the benefit of benefit-free treatment!” says seller of benefit-free treatment

February 27th, 2012

Local papers last week were keen to dispel the myths around acupuncture, given that many people are apparently unaware of the health benefits of the needle-based therapy. Which is almost certainly because there are no health benefits of the needle-based therapy. 

The Thame Gazette is one such local paper, which went with the story:

Do you miss the whole point of acupuncture?

WITH Acupuncture Awareness Week just around the corner one Thame specialist is keen to help dispel some of the myths and misconceptions.

A recent survey by OnePoll revealed that many people still do not understand the possible benefits the health treatment offers.

The poll was commissioned by OnePoll, for the British Acupuncture Council, who want you to think that there are health benefits to acupuncture and if you don’t know what those health benefits are, you should ask during Acupuncture Awareness Week

“James Bond is great” says opportunistic insurance firm

February 23rd, 2012

Sometimes, linking a news article to what you sell isn’t important – simply getting your name out in the press is goal enough for a PR article. Like this, from last Saturday:

Why Daniel’s trunks are no match for Ursula’s white bikini: From Oddjob’s deadly bowler to Blofeld’s sinister cat… Bond fans reveal the 50 memories that left them shaken and stirred

They are the quintessential moments that make James Bond such a very special agent.

Fans of the 007 movies all treasure their own favourite memories that encapsulate their hero, whether it’s Little Nellie, Bond’s one-man autogyro from You Only Live Twice, or our suave spy dressed to kill in his dinner suit.

And now, to mark 50 years of the film franchise, a survey of movie-goers has revealed their 50 essential Bond memories.

Who funded the survey?

The survey of 1,000 fans was carried out by insurance firm esure. The company’s Nikki Sellers said: ‘Bond is famous for the actors who play him, the villains and, of course, the girls.

Insurance firm esure clearly know that sometimes, just being mentioned alongside something well-loved is enough to incrementally increase perception of your brand. While nobody will overtly read this article and decide to choose esure as their insurance company, aligning the esure brand with the Bond brand is enough to add a little drip of extra warmth to the way people feel about esure – over time, this subtle effect will spur people to look favourably on esure as a brand.

Or, at least, it works when you aren’t made explicitly aware that it’s what they’re doing…

“Sat navs can be annoying!” agree car insurers and mountain rescuers

February 22nd, 2012

The humble sat nav has taken something of a beating of late. First we had the Daily Mail, who blamed the navigation device for damaging cars on Thursday (they blamed them on Thursday; they’re not suggesting cars get disproportionately damaged on a Thursday. That might be the next pollster story to come out…):

Misleading satnavs have caused more than £200 million worth of damage to cars in the past 12 months, it was revealed today.

As many as 83% of satnav users have been misled by their system, a survey by Confused.com found.

Accidents caused by drivers going the wrong way have led to damage totalling £203 million in the past year, the poll also showed.

As you can see, this was a story placed by Confused.com via their PR agency Cake, in order to promote their brand new sat nav blackspot locator

Second up, we have the story from Sunday’s Telegraph which told us that ramblers are now so reliant on sat navs they can no longer read a map, and as such are terrible ramblers:

Warning over decline in map skills as ramblers rely on sat navs

Ramblers are getting lost because many no longer have basic map reading skills and rely on smart phones and sat navs, mountain rescuers have warned.

For generations, the most essential piece of kit for any rambler tackling Britain’s mountains and moors has been a map. But for modern hikers, it seems, this is no longer the case.

Experts have warned that traditional map-reading skills are now on the decline, with sales of paper charts slumping.

No mention is made about you can prove a causal link between use of a sat nav while driving and getting lost on hills… but at least we get some stats:

Ordnance Survey says sales of its paper maps have dropped by 25 per cent since 2005, to 2.1 million last year. Over the same period, mountain rescue incidents in England and Wales have increased by 52 per cent, to 1,054 in 2011.

So, half a million fewer maps are sold, and five hundred more people required mountain rescue assistance – therefore there is a causal link here, and that causal link is the use of sat navs. This appears to be the argument being made here. Which would be fine, if there was data to back that up – but at the moment, we’re given only anecdotal linkages.

And who compiled these figures?

Ged Feeney, who compiled the figures for Mountain Rescue, which represents emergency response units, said: “The majority of those who get lost do so as a result of being unable to do the basic things with a map and compass.”

Perhaps there may be a genuine argument that a rise in sat nav reliance leads to a rise in ramblers needing rescue – however, this story, despite being sold on the assumption that sat navs are to blame, says nothing about any link to sat navs. The links being made are to the fall in ordinance survey sales – but falling sales in maps doesn’t mean that ramblers aren’t buying maps any more, it just means that fewer maps are being sold. Is the fall in map sales reflected in the rambler community? We’ve no idea, the research hasn’t been done. Until it is, we can’t say anything at all about the effect having a sat nav in your car has on your ability to ramble.

“Life at 50 is expensive, but buy private healthcare!” says private healthcare provider

February 20th, 2012

As you get older, life seems to get more expensive – but it’s important not to neglect your expensive healthcare…

The mid-life money crisis: Turning 50 marks the most expensive stage of our lives

With children flying the nest and more free time than ever, those turning 50 would be forgiven for thinking they might be able to kick back and enjoy their golden years.

But according to a new study, the tough times are only just beginning.

A new study has found that those celebrating their half-century are about to enter the most expensive stage of their lives.

said the Daily Mail, at the start of a scare story about the shocking finances of the over 50s, and how expensive life gets once you’re past the half-century.

The article was derived from a press release from Benenden Healthcare Society – in fact here’s the press release (another effort from OnePoll/72 Point).

You might think it odd that a private healthcare firm to be telling their target audience that finances are tight, and they need to prioritise? Not so:

Marc Bell added: ‘Life is getting tougher for the over 50s. The increased costs places extras pressures on the wallet, but it can also put greater pressure on mental wellbeing and the strength of relationships.

‘In the midst of this greater expense, we should not forget to prioritise our personal health. It is perhaps the time of life when maintaining good health is most vital – therefore ensuring a secure future for our family.

‘Whilst being in your 50s can be the most expensive time of life, not having safeguards such as life cover could end up leaving loved ones to pick up the pieces and to try and deal with huge financial burdens.’

So ‘even though you’re skint, don’t skimp on the healthcare or your family will be screwed when you die’. Wonderful.

“Sex with a co-worker: The right job could get you laid!” says job search website

February 18th, 2012

MSNBC reported this week that:

Thirty-eight percent of workers said in a new survey by CareerBuilder.com that they had dated a co-worker at least once during their working lives.


The report echoed a press release also featured on various generic blogs, but originating with polling company Harris Interactive, commissioned by CareerBuilder.com – a company trying to convince people to get looking for jobs:


A nice, convenient story for Valentine’s day, I’m sure you’ll agree – and, whether the facts are true or not, it’s a great way for CareerBuilder.com to get their name in the press.