Polls as Marketing Weapons: Implications for the Market Research Industry
To a background of public cynicism about business and declining respondent co-operation the authors argue that the market research professional bodies need to review codes of conduct, questionnaire guidelines and complaints procedures with opinion polls in mind. Such polls, given their high visibility, are likely to help shape the perceived credibility of the industry. The apparently conflicting findings of some major pressure groups' polls plus confusion between straw polls and scientific polls seem likely to create antipathy amongst the general public, if not hostility to polls. Pressure groups use polls as marketing weapons to influence politicians, the media and perhaps attempt to change the public's attitudes. Spiral of Silence, Bandwagoning and Cognitive Dissonance theories are presented as explanations of how the public's attitudes may be affected. The problems associated with straw and scientific polls are examined. Recommendations are made as to how professional bodies might address any controversy given the increased likelihood of polls being used by pressure groups (for instance on the euro or Europe, agriculture, animal welfare, health care, business practice etc.).