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People are often skeptical of statistics – and rightfully so, because so many companies and researchers use statistics to try to prove points beyond the scope of their research. This is a serious problem with scientific and market research, because researchers (and the public they inform) are being misled to believe certain things that are patently false.

But that doesn’t mean that surveys can’t be conducted specifically for this purpose, provided it is completed responsibly. Royal Caribbean did a great job of this with their recent survey, found here. The cruise line ran a survey about the benefits of cruises, finding all types of statistics that prove the benefits of cruises including:

  • 67% of couples being more in love with their partner.
  • 80% feeling more connected.
  • 62% having better sex.

And so on. It’s all great marketing information. But is it useful from a scientific perspective? Almost assuredly not. Couples that go on these cruises represent a sample that is seriously biased, and the results of this type of experiment are very unlikely to have much meaning beyond trying to convince people that they should go on the cruise.

Very few couples go on a cruise “just because.” They go on a cruise because they’re either already madly in love with their partner, or they need a vacation to break them from the doldrums of everyday life. Cruises are designed to be romantic places, so it should come as a surprise to no one that people that go on cruises have an enjoyable, loving time. Similarly, rarely will you find any couple that’s often arguing and disliking each other willing to pay a great deal of money to go on a cruise together. Being stuck on a boat with someone you’re consistently mad at is fun for no one.

But while the information from these surveys is likely useless from a scientific perspective, it works great as a marketing tool, and the results of the study are likely accurate for what the cruise line was measuring. As a company, you ethically shouldn’t try to make more of these results than they appear, and realistically it would be foolish of your company to make business decisions based on this type of data, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ample opportunities for you to research for data that suits your marketing needs. Just make sure you use that data ethically.

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