Why Public Opinion Research Could Transform Your Business

What is public opinion research and exactly how does it benefit companies in their development of corporate strategy? How do some businesses start what seems like more of a “movement” than a marketing campaign? This article will briefly review the importance of public opinion research, how it can be used to inform marketing and advertising strategies, and the associated positive impacts for your business. 

What is Public Opinion Research?

Typically, public opinion research comprises general polls of a nationally representative audience to measure sentiment on matters of cultural significance like government policy, religious affiliations, national values and identity, and much more. Regardless of their content and purpose, public opinion research surveys can be conducted by both academic and corporate practitioners. The widespread use of public opinion research became popular in the mid-20th century and private businesses often use public opinion research to anticipate trends, plan a response, and monitor the effectiveness of their approach.

Using Public Opinion Research for Effective Marketing 

Because consumers have more ways than ever of interacting with, reviewing, boycotting, or supporting brands, companies are looking for any way of measuring the prevailing opinion before taking a public stance on issues. Public opinion research can help companies gauge consumer sentiments about the economy, the political climate, a cultural movement, etc. Each of these external forces can affect how people spend or invest their money.

As brands attempt to become more attuned to cultural sentiments they’ve realized that a simple misstep can have huge consequences. Alternatively, a campaign that truly resonates with buyers can be a home run by reaching new audiences and strengthening customer engagement. More specifically, this strategy is known as “Movement Marketing.” Successfully executing a movement marketing-driven strategy can yield remarkable results, helping a brand transcend far beyond mere goods and services. However, in order to use this strategy effectively, companies must be able to intimately understand the nuances of social movements and prevailing public opinions in order to properly show how their brand(s) share the same vision and values.

Additionally, deeper analysis of public opinion research might reveal the prevailing sentiments of a specific market segment. A platform like 1Q can help your business seamlessly break down, analyze and visualize demographic information from any kind of market or public opinion research. Understanding the associated demographic traits of those who support or oppose a specific issue is more valuable than gold.

Too, demographics in the U.S. are changing rapidly. 11,000 U.S. citizens turn 65 daily, and our national population replacement rate has fallen to around 1,765.5, which is below the natural replacement rate. The long-term effects of shifting demographics and popular opinions, and recommendations for businesses to capitalize on these changes, are discussed in the following section.

The Strategic Benefits of Public Opinion Research for Businesses

The importance of public opinion research goes even deeper than a single marketing tactic or advertising campaign. While public opinion can change quickly, there are certainly long-term trends that gain momentum and begin to become accepted practice (or a new standard) over time. When businesses develop strategic plans with an eye on the future, they have to answer questions that are foundational to their business model and viability. These might include questions like the following:

  • Is it the right time to change our manufacturing practices? 
  • Should we expand our product lines? 
  • Is there more opportunity in a new market? 
  • Can and should we become more vertically integrated? 
  • Has it been too long since we reimagine our corporate brand? 
  • Do consumer shopping trends justify a “double down” on eCommerce capabilities? 
  • Does continued poor performance merit the closing of fledgling divisions?

While public opinion research is by no means a single determining factor for those kinds of decisions, it should inform them continually throughout planning cycles. It’s easily possible for market research only (meaning the preferences and demographics of a specific set of consumers) to be too myopic, missing broader cultural movements and concerns. 

In his seminal work “Marketing Myopia”, Harvard Professor Ted Levitt specifically notes that many industries become too focused on product-market fit alone. This narrow focus eventually causes them to miss macro trends that might have been seen years before when looking at broader changes in public opinion, demographics, and technology. Unfortunately, this means that successful businesses can be disrupted by a competitor that more deeply or effectively satisfies the true needs of a market with a new technology or superior offering.

Some well-known examples from recent years include continued consumer preferences in the following areas:

  • Companies that promote clean, renewable, and sustainable manufacturing, packaging, and distribution.
  • Acute, authentic sensitivity to issues of race, discrimination, gender orientation, etc.

Public opinion research can help companies understand if you’ve lost touch or failed to meet consumer demand in areas like the ones described above; including if they truly understand how what seems like a passing fad will eventually become a “new normal.” 

Try the power of 1Q’s research capabilities today and see how your company can inform decisions about marketing, advertising, and product development with data-driven insights and analysis.