We only want your time, we don’t want to sell you anything

In a recent blog we’ve written about the TPS and how useful it can or can’t be when it comes to best practices and ensuring the most representative samples possible.


Underpinning the use of the TPS by marketers and researchers is the notion of not only permission (flowing in one direction) but of value (flowing in the other).  But with “cold calls” from market research firms being permitted by law in the UK and calls from telemarketing not, how much merit does the distinction have?  And how much more “buy-in” from householders can researchers expect simply by not being marketers or sales chasers?


There are possibly three factors at play here.  Someone’s time – either you have it to spare for a call or you don’t, whether it’s your gran, someone wanting to talk to you about new windows or an interviewer asking how you’ll vote in the forthcoming election.  Someone’s availability (the convenience factor) or how MUCH time they can spare at a given moment is arguably most important.  In addition to the relevance of the proposition at the given opportunity.


Market researchers often seem convinced that because they are not selling something that there is some kind of superiority or an implicit preference from a respondent to answer their survey.


But does this really hold true?  In the case of Sample Answers’ samples which are derived from partnerships with standards-compliant direct marketing agencies, people have consented to not only give demographic and lifestyle information to marketers but also being contacted, be it by phone, post or email.  Should they be called at the most opportune or least disruptive time and the call is relevant, what difference is there between a call for a survey versus a call about a product or service they are interested in?


Or, put another way, is the 12 minute survey about washing powder a preferable proposition to a 5 minute chat about financing the new car that someone is likely to be buying?  We would contend that there isn’t much if anything that would imply that the market research interview is a “better” way for someone to spend their time, no matter what good we believe research is achieving.  As with most things that involve permission and consent, the genuine players are constantly at risk from bad actors.  Market research and direct marketing are very much two sides of the same coin here when viewed through the lens of time, permission and relevance.


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