Market Research in 2019: Its all about timing. Plus what we learn from Donald Trump Jr and The Druids

Its all in the Timing

­If you don’t mind me asking, how many of you reading this blog took part in a market research study, of any kind, over the recent Christmas holidays? I suspect the answer is, not many.

And why would you? We were all on ‘downtime’. Focusing on our friends, family and fun – rather than on someone else’s survey.

The same applies everywhere, during any holiday season. Whether national or local, religious or political, public holidays can really put ‘a spanner in the works’ of even the best prepared market research survey.

For over 25 years, The Language Factory has been translating international market research surveys and consumer insight projects for global businesses. We are qualified linguists and we know market research. We know, as you do, that meaningful insight comes from probing questions, answered in good time with considered responses, in sufficient numbers.

Completing a survey ‘properly’ takes time. During carnivals, festivals and fiestas, our time is re-directed. Normal life gets put on hold and our usual patterns of travel, behaviour, purchasing and email survey responding are disrupted. If your target respondents are spending their quality time on themselves, they won’t have much left to spend on you.

Chose the right day

With over 50% of emailed survey responses likely to come in within one day email receipt, it’s important to pick the right day. If you’ve gone to the effort of crafting a survey, and having it translated (hopefully, by us), it’s probably best not to undermine your chances of yielding optimum insight by fielding it at an inappropriate time and constricting the veracity of your replies; either too rushed or too few, or both.

To help prevent disappointing response rates in 2019, we’ve recreated our interactive ‘When Not to Conduct Market Research’ infographic. Days throughout 2019 when, for best survey results, it’s perhaps best to NOT carry out your survey.*

Some brands are big enough to get away with a ‘double-booking’. Prince Harry for example.

At 1.00 pm on 19 May 1218 Harry married Meghan at Windsor Castle. Harry and Meg will remember that as their wedding day. Others will remember it as FA Cup Final Day … which kicked-off a few hours later.

For that afternoon the public put aside their usual time-absorbing activities to engage with both: viewing figures peaked at 9m for the football and 13m for the wedding.

Most brands however, don’t have the pulling-power to get away with such a monstrous double-booking and the rule of thumb is that market researchers should avoid survey fieldwork during holidays, weekends and big public events.

recheck your timing Calculations

As well as avoiding double-bookings, if you can, it also pays to re-check your calculations if counting forward, or backward, in time.

One person who, very publicly, didn’t is Donald Trump Jr. On Wednesday 31 October 2018, he posted a video on Twitter saying that, “in 7 days, Republicans needed to get out and vote”. If they’d listened to DTJr, the world might be a different place as they’d all have arrived one day late and missed the vote: that having been on Tuesday 6 November … 6 days after 31 Oct.

While being late is often unfixable, being early has its own disadvantages. From her hotel room in Bhutan, Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith mistimed her congratulatory tweet to the 2017 series’ winner Sophie Faldo, sending her ‘Well Done’ message five hours before the result aired on UK TV. Damage was limited by a rapid-reaction ‘delete-tweet’ from Channel Four’s heavily perspiring PR team.

Miscalculated timing is not only the preserve of modern, singular events. Ancient, recurring engagements get muddled too.

One crisp December morning in 2009, 300 enthusiastic would-be Druids assembled before dawn at Stonehenge, to mark the rising of the sun on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

The winter solstice occurs when the tilt of the earth’s axis is at its furthest from the sun, 23 degrees 26 minutes off the vertical to be precise. More often than not, this celestial episode occurs on 21 December. But sometimes, it moves.

2009 was one such time. By virtue of one earth day not being precisely 24 hours, this solstice had nudged forward one day to 22 December. Organisers of the Wiltshire-pagan-massive failed to recheck their calendar and the chilly mystics arrived 24 hours early.

Fortunately, English Heritage, who manage the ancient stone circle, opened the gates anyway, and also presumably the highly priced tea room and gift shop (it’s all profit at the end of the (shortest) day), and the miscalculating celebrants got to rejoice on site, even if a little half-heartedly.

Our advice

At The Language Factory we advise all market research clients to double-check for double-bookings and, though having your survey responses impacted by the transverse of the sun across the heavens is unlikely, triple check any time and date calculations.

When Not to Conduct Market Research details days throughout 2019 when, for best survey results, it’s perhaps best to NOT carry out your survey.*

Nb. Winter Solstice 2019 is on 22 December. No, really it is. (Source: Google)

*This is a guide only, sourced from various data suppliers online. Please also consult your usual calendars and information sources to plan your survey schedules.

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