A quick guide to advertising consumer surveys

May 13th '21

Advertising claims from consumer surveys can be a great way to let the public know just how highly your product or service is rated by consumers. However, many marketers have fallen foul of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code in the way they have communicated their findings.


Here are some key questions to ask yourself, to help you stay on the right side of the line.


  • Does the headline claim accurately reflect the survey?


The most common pitfall that marketers fall into is when their ads misleadingly represent their survey’s findings.


Wisdom Toothbrushes came unstuck when they made the claim “recommended by 100% of dental professionals”, basing it on the survey question “Would you recommend this product to patients in practice?” While all respondents said they would recommend the brushes, this was different to all respondents actively having used or recommended the product. Marketers should therefore take care to ensure that the headline claim accurately reflects the survey question that it’s based on.


As Three Mobile found out when they made the claim “UK’s most reliable network”, it is also important for marketers to make clear that their claims are actually based on consumer surveys as opposed to more objective measures.


  • Is the sample size statistically significant?


The Advertising Standards Authority will consider claims and supporting data on a case by case basis and marketers should ensure that their sample is of a sufficient size to adequately support the claim they’re making.


The Code does not specifically require sample sizes to be included in marketing communications, unless it would be misleading to omit them. So, if results are based on a robust sample size in which statistically significant findings can be drawn, then there is no need to include the sample size in the ad.


  • Is the sample representative?


Marketers are not prohibited from conducting their survey on participants who are likely to view their product more favourably than a representative sample, so long as they make clear to consumers that this is what they have done.


Ristorante Pizza fell at this hurdle when their ad suggested that their survey was taken from a representative sample, when in fact, to take part in the survey, participants had to have first purchased Ristorante Pizza.


Marketers should therefore ensure they make clear whether the participants are a representative sample or their own customers.

For more information, please see general advice on consumer surveys and sample claims.


Source: CAP


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