Market Research Agencies Have Dealt With ‘Alternative Facts’ For Years

Trump (sorry, not ready to call him President yet) and his team have done that classic agency nightmare through the introduction of ‘alternative facts’. Forget the photographic evidence, the transit data – the fact more turned out for #WomensMarch than the inauguration.

Our industry’s version of alternative facts is often any or all of the following:

“But my wife’s favourite colour is red so I don’t really believe that they said blue.”

“If it’s not statistically significant, I don’t need to read too much into it.”

“But can you remember in the focus group when that guy said the product would fly off the shelf – he’s our target market.”

“Last time when we did this research, they said the opposite so I tend to believe them.”

Benjamin Disraeli has a lot to answer for when he said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

So when there’s a challenge to what we believe is indisputable fact, how do we not only stand our ground but prove our point?

At The Interpreters, we do the following:

• Remember that one number is just a single digit in what should be the bigger picture story. Numbers in isolation are the qualitative version of that one comment in the focus group. Find the context, build the story and use the numbers to support rather than dominate. The best quantitative presentation we ever delivered didn’t have a chart or number for the first 15 slides.
• Prove your point. If we’re confident in the way the number was collected, if the audience was both robust and representative and you can explain it via the story, stand your ground. Fair enough, we’re not trying to convince the minority of Americans who voted for Trump but our clients tend to have a far superior IQ than him and his cabinet.
• Look outside the box, scope and project. There’s often complimentary trends, research and evidence to support what we’ve done in the one project so we will often find that additional proof (should we need it) for external sources.

International Media – that’s how we deal with ‘alternative facts’ – we wish you all the best over the next 4 years or so.

This blog post has already been read by the largest audience to ever read a blog and any attempts to dispute that are both shameful and wrong.


From Paul Dixon

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