Thursday 10 November 2016

Can We Ever Believe Another Poll?

Much of retail planning at a market like QVM is based around customer surveys. Our City Council is particularly fond of assessing consumers views through polls and basing future actions on such data but following Brexit and the US elections can we really believe what polls tell us?

In the US elections the majority of commentators and some highly credentialed experts got it all wrong. The majority of people are genuinely shocked by Trumps win probably for two reasons. One is that he is so incorrect, and the other is that the polls said he wouldn't be voted in. It turns out that there is a considerable "silent majority" who won't openly express what they feel about politicians, but In the quiet confines of a private polling booth will make their choices. What process do those same people use when deciding what to buy?

We can't argue with freedom of choice. This is a democratic world (for most of us) and many of us take exception to the constant attempts to influence our thinking. Unsolicited phone calls, surveys, and opinion polls are just some of the examples. What really counts is how we vote on the day, and in the case of consumers, how we spend our money.

Making decisions, even those informed by polls, really needs to be carefully scrutinised and if Brexit and the US elections teach us nothing else, it is clear that many of our decisions need to have flexible outcomes. Just ask the guy who printed "Congratulations President Hilary" T-shirts.