Thursday, 27 June 2013

100% of readers of this blog think it’s a cracker!*

Ah the power of marketing and advertising. Even though I like to think of myself as smart, uneasily influenced and resistant to glossy print advertising and super tv ads, I do sometimes find myself in Boots heading to the till with that super swish newly launched mascara that will definitely give me the ‘falsies’ effect – after all, ‘99% of users agree’!

It is 100% true, that most beauty product related ads aimed at females, have a strap line along the lines of “90% of testers” or “9 out of 10 testers” were overjoyed with the product, would use it again and even recommend it to their bff. Wow, must be a super product!

Indicating that 99% of testers were very happy to recommend the product sounds great. I immediately envisage masses upon masses of women all running to their local Boots to snap up said mascara. Then they’ll all run straight home and put it on and POW have fabulously fluttering lashes. Men will go weak at the knees and before we know it the likes of Sushi Samba, The Oblix and any other London venue du jour will be unable to process the magnitude in couples wanting a table for a hot date. I MUST have this mascara.

BUT what we don’t usually know, or wouldn’t even think to consider, is the number of ‘testers’ that were actually asked about the product. We all went through the painful and seemingly pointless process of learning all about proportions and ratios at school and now would be a good time to advocate that accumulated knowledge..! I remember once being suitably impressed with a strong endorsement for a new mascara; 93% of customers who tried said mascara loved it and thought that it was the bees’ knees. Pretty impressive, must be worth the money! Then I read the itty bitty details. The sample size of testers was 7. Yes, seven.
So obviously this is an exaggeration, but you get the jist. Companies are quite content with pulling the wool over the eyes of their poor, loyal consumers who perhaps don’t have a strong understanding of sample sizes and reliability… God damn it maybe they simply trust the brand!

When companies were originally forced to start disclosing the evidence for their sometimes amazingly abstract claims, the idea was for customers to receive the clarity they deserve. Now somewhere along the line, thanks to some sly marketing fox that is probably now giggling into his gold, this has gone walkabout. I think that perhaps it’s time to put the issue up for discussion… Even if companies are merely ‘encouraged’ as opposed to forced to use a reliable sample size, one company will hopefully do so and set the standard. Not asking for a lot here pals, simply some truth… I can’t afford all of these new mascaras!!

*Sample size: 1