NEWS25 October 2011

AMSRS probes McCrindle survey allegations

Asia Pacific Video

AUSTRALIA— The Australian Market & Social Research Society (AMSRS) is investigating member company McCrindle Research after concerns were raised about the basis of several survey findings quoted in the press.

The ABC1 show Media Watch devoted a nine-minute segment of its 17 October programme to three surveys the company carried out in 2008, 2009 and 2010, results of which are alleged to have been based on sample sizes much smaller than the company’s claim of 1,000 respondents in two of the cases and 2,500 in the other.

Media Watch also questioned McCrindle’s use of the word “representative” to describe its online panel of survey takers. The programme segment and transcript is online here.

Following the broadcast, Australian marketing blog Mumbrella spoke to AMSRS executive director Elissa Molloy, who said an investigation was underway but that “any member is entitled to a presumption of innocence during that process”.

McCrindle has yet to publicly respond to the allegations, but the company’s founder Mark McCrindle appeared in a YouTube video dated 17 October explaining more about the company and how it conducts its research.

However, ABC claims to have obtained a copy of an apology, dated 19 October, which it says was sent to McCrindle clients. The document states: “In the early years of McCrindle Research, when releasing internal, unpaid research, the methodology line referring to the number of people surveyed would sometimes record the number of people sent the survey rather than the number of surveys completed. Almost two years ago this was recognised by us to be inadequate and erroneous and since then we have only made reference to the number of completed surveys received.”

Addressing questions about the definition of the firm’s panel, it goes on to say: “While the panel has always been national, in the past when releasing internal, unpaid research, the term ‘representative’ was inadvertently used on occasions when it did not apply. It is only accurate to use the term ‘representative’ when the sample matches the demographics of the total population.”

The apology concludes: “Please note, neither of these issues relate to any commercial work or commissioned research that we have ever conducted and they do not relate to any of the actual research findings. However we acknowledge the importance of accuracy in presenting the details of the research methodology.”

The document then goes on to set out McCrindle’s commitment to “World’s Best practice” (a commitment repeated in a downloadable PDF available from the company’s homepage).

Research has emailed McCrindle representatives seeking comment.