Research Biases During Halloween

31 Oct 2006|Miguel Winebrenner

It is vox populi in the marketing and research industries that Holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas, could bias research results. The reason is that consumers’ attitudes and behaviors during these periods are altered i.e., they may be more/less inclined to purchase certain services and goods based on their need states during these festivities. There may also be increased levels of awareness and effective recall for brands due to Holiday advertising. As such, most researchers try to avoid conducting field during these periods of the year- particularly during the third week of November, and between December 15th and January 5th. However, for certain cases, there is also a strong reason for avoiding data-gathering around Halloween.

Although Halloween does not affect buying habits or awareness levels for many types of products and services, it could in the case of CPGs like gum and candy. The high exposure and consumption of these types of products during the days before, during and after Halloween are a strong deterrent. Tracking data could strongly over-index and qualitative insights could be exacerbated. And although Halloween is more likely to skew children’s attitudes and behaviors relative to gum and candy, it could also change adults’ A&Us since they are just as exposed during this period.

Recently, due to the experience of our strong field department, we were able to make a recommendation to one of our gum/mint/candy clients to postpone research during these periods. Had we not done this, the project would have been jeopardized to the point where our client’s ability to make strategic decisions, ranging from ad spend to product innovation, would have been seriously compromised.

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