Why Did Traditional Market Research Methods Fail in the US Elections?

Surprise, surprise. Donald Trump is the new US President-elect; the result that is contrary to almost all surveys conducted during the campaign. Almost everyone pointed at the almost-certain success of Hillary Clinton. The keyword we’d like to underline is “almost-certain”. Why didn’t this “almost-certainty” materialise in “absolute-certainty”? Here is our answer: Standard market research methods fail at collecting ever changing real-time responses. Hard. And businesses cannot afford to ignore this shortcoming in their own operations.

Concerning political elections, there is really a single question that matters: Will you vote for A or B? Respondents pick A or B, that’s it. This is what happened in this US presidential election as well. Questionnaires asked: “Clinton or Trump?” Respondents chosen for the sample populations mostly answered with “Clinton”. With hundreds of surveys displaying the same result, it was the end of the story. But, it apparently wasn’t. There was something research analysts and experts missed, something that was fundamental enough to alter the election outcome. As B2B International underlined in their most recent blog entry: Human beings can be whimsical in nature. Just look at the fact that only 56.9% of eligible voters actually voted despite all of the almost 2 year-long media hype surrounding the candidates. Dealing with such uncertainty, traditional market research is an imperfect indicator of future intentions.

Briefly put, traditional market research methods have these pitfalls:

-Budget limits determine your sample size; smaller budgets mean smaller sample sizes.

-Question forms are set in stone; wrong questions equal unreliable data. Plus, altering a form means loss of time and money.

-You can’t be present at every touchpoint all the time; traditional market research consists of discrete data which require establishing connections later.

It’s not all cons, though. There was one important fact the market research polls informed us about: Surveys gave us a very good indication of how close the election would be. However, leaving politics aside, a business striving for success cannot stop at basic level indications. What you need is real-time insights from your own clients provided by flexible surveys and detailed customer experience analysis reports. With Pisano’s customisable real-time digital surveys:

-Your sample size grows approximately 50% without extra investment.

-Question forms can be customised on the spot, without time or money loss.

-You are always kept updated about what is going on in the market.

-Real-time feedback about new products/services/sales from your real customers.

-Learn which regions and channels you should invest in from your own customers.

2016 US presidential elections is your reminder about the importance of all points we gave above. Realising the potential returns on investment, companies like McDonald’s, LC Waikiki, Defacto, and Kipa have already chosen Pisano to expand their sample sizes and to reach more accurate feedback. Listen to your customers constantly and improve your business with data-enriched action plans. Download our demo and let’s get started on your success story today.

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