Consumer Opinion Data: Getting Creative at Crunch Time

Pollsters working on political campaigns have always placed a premium on rapid access to public opinion data. Our clients’ need to obtain actionable consumer opinion data and insights within 24-48 hours has increased exponentially. Four types of decision-makers are coming to us for quick-turn information they can use, each with obstacles they find hindering their process:

  1. Corporate communications or issue management professionals who make decisions quickly, often on the spot during a crisis, and have only their gut and previous experience to guide them.

  2. PR, advertising or marketing professionals who are frequently called upon to either justify the direction of a campaign or demonstrate return on investment. They often need up-to-date metrics, but don’t have the budget to implement an expensive ongoing research tracking program.

  3. Brand strategists who are entrusted with the task of ensuring that ongoing communications and programs resonate with key stakeholders and align with their organization’s mission. They need to monitor over time whether their brand’s USP is differentiated from competitors among key audiences.

  4. Government relations officials who need to consistently measure the level of support or opposition to proposed legislation or their organization’s stance on an issue. They are entrusted with the task of identifying relevant changes in the temperature of public opinion over time.

The challenges for all of them are two-fold: first, how can it be done affordably? Second, how can strategic insights, in addition to data, be gathered so that the value proposition increases?

Here’s an example that illustrates the need for rapid information.

We have a client who is in the midst of a long-term brand development project with an agency. This client was interrupted by some moderately unfavorable news which the media unfortunately elevated into the very bad news category. They turned to us with three questions:

  1. Is the public aware of this coverage?

  2. Are opinions of us, and, ultimately, our brand personality suffering as a result of the coverage?

  3. Does this issue “have legs,” or will it simply go away?

Our client and their agency agreed that answers to these questions were likely to have a major impact on their positioning strategy, but there was not a lot of of money available to do expensive or comprehensive research. They needed data and insights, and they needed them both in 24 hours.

Time to get creative. We decided to try something new and partnered with a recognized market leader in data collection to specifically develop a “rapid response” consumer polling capability, different than an omnibus or flash poll, with pricing based on economies of scale to make it affordable for this client.

We developed standard questions related to awareness, favorability and recall, but framed them within the larger context of brand strategy in relation to different corporate reputation scenarios. We received daily feedback or measures on key metrics over a week-long period and cross-referenced it with secondary syndicated data on competitors and organizations that had faced similar challenges. On an ongoing basis and over a two-week period, we were able to gain access to data and insights that we could frame into an executive summary with historical reporting for trends analysis and strategic implications for our client.

Our experience with "rapid response polling," as distinct from omnibus or flash polls—insights, strategy, integration of other data and historical data reporting wrapped in a succinct and targeted package—helped us and our client weather the storm and develop anticipatory action plans to protect the reputation of the company. Our team of seasoned pollsters, researchers and strategists had developed a "rapid response polling" capacity that we are excited to say we will be launching as a new product by year’s end. It’s exciting.