FEATURE13 February 2019

The unusual suspects

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Researching the hard to reach is as challenging as it is important for charities, governments and brands. Jane Bainbridge looks at how market researchers are ensuring they hear the opinions of all sections of society.

Unusual suspects - 2019

At the end of last year, the UK had the ignominy of being told by the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, that its levels of child poverty were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity”, and that austerity was in breach of four UN human rights agreements. The government, predictably, disagreed with his findings.

Setting aside arguments about the levels of and reasons for poverty in the UK, people living on the lowest incomes are often overlooked in society and are in danger of falling outside many research remits.

There are various groups that can be deemed hard to reach – the disabled, the mentally ill, physically remote communities, the very elderly or indeed, the very wealthy. With 22% of the population living in households earning below average income, however – and 7% in persistent poverty (ONS figures) – those with very limited incomes make up significant numbers of those hard-to-reach ...