NEWS6 August 2020

More representative national samples needed, says open letter

News People Trends UK

UK – An initiative to address unconscious bias in the market research industry has called for more nationally-representative samples to statistically reflect the UK’s ethnicity and sexual orientation.

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The Voices4All Initiative will encourage the use of samples within the market research industry that fairly represent the UK population, and has published an open letter setting out its issues with the current use of sampling in research.

The initiative has been set up by market research firm Vitreous World, media agency The7stars, communications agency FleishmanHillard Fishburn, brand consultancy The Barber Shop and the market research agencies Touchstone Partners and Shoppercentric.

The open letter from Voices4All says that nationally representative surveys have traditionally focused on age, gender, region and social class, but have overlooked demographics relating to minority groups.

For example, the 2011 census shows that 18% of the population are from a different ethnic group or nationality to ‘white British’, while data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2017 found 2% of people state they are LGBT+, the letter says.

The letter says the initiative will offer a revised approach to demographic targeting to ensure that UK samples for all nationally representative research statistically reflect age, gender, region, socio-demographic breakdowns as well as sexual orientation and ethnicity.

Every sample will be screened to ensure it represents the make-up of the UK population according to the latest ONS census data.

“The bottom line here is that if your current approach to nationally representative consumer research is based on sampling that excludes quotas on ethnicity and sexual orientation, it is not fit for purpose,” the letter says.

“This is a prime example of the unconscious bias that exists in our industry, and one that we are now taking a first step towards addressing.”

The open letter can be read here.