Useful tips on advertising consumer surveys

Sep 29th '16


Consumer surveys can be a great way for marketers to let the public know just how highly their product is rated by consumers. However, many marketers have fallen foul of the CAP Code in the way they have communicated their findings. Here are some useful tips on how to stay right side of the line.

Does the headline claim accurately reflect the survey?

The most common pitfall that marketer’s 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 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 CAP Code does not require sample sizes to be included in marketing communications. 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. However, if the sample size is relatively small such that the findings may not be statistically significant, then it’s best to be safe and include qualifying text that includes the sample size in the ad.

Is the sample a representative sample?

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 our general advice on sampling references.

Source: CAP website