Do Consumer Surveys Work?

Market surveys are the bread and butter of Survey Compare. We have a large database of participating members, and are constantly comparing the rewards and services offered by South Africa’s market research companies.

We do this for two reasons. We like to make sure that people who take paid surveys get the best rewards for their time. We also hope to influence South African companies to supply the right goods, and at prices that we can afford.

I’d like to start by using the following graphic published by the Global Solar Thermal Energy Council as an example.

Graphic showing fastest growing segments in South Africa's thermal market

The international umbrella group conducted a number of surveys similar to the ones we represent here. Their goal was to help their members roll out their products in ways that would generate more sales.

The top bar shows how growth is distributed among different products in South Africa. Its message is very clear. Most advertising spend should be directed towards hotels and homeowners. I find it interesting that our government is so disinterested, what with Eskom rates spinning out of control as they have been recently.

Clearly, geyser solar panels are way ahead of other options. Now you know why our newspapers are so full of advertisements for them. This suggests that competition must be quite hectic. This could be a good time to bargain for a low price. Surveys are useful for consumers too.

All this writing is making me hungry. What’s for lunch? This study by the Mail & Guardian was released on 13 September 2013, and relates South African food demand to the state of the economy.

Graphic showing South African living standards and eating habbits

By asking people and conducting surveys, the researchers discovered that:

  • Red meat sales - the red boxes - are starting to recover which is a clear indication of economic growth.
  • White meat sales - the blue boxes just below - are growing at a steadier and faster rate. Kentucky and Mr Rooster must be doing well.
  • The orange boxes - at the bottom left - show that egg sales are even healthier. No wonder the chicken farmers keep on building sheds.

The picture to the top right is a bit more complex. The bottom axis groups South Africans according to living standards, with the worst to the left and the best to the right. The latest data suggests that most South Africans share a similar standard of living, with just a few of us extremely poor or filthy rich. As might be expected, we are eating more white meat like pork and chicken, and less expensive red meat.

The box to the middle right confirms this fact. We are eating more fresh produce – the green boxes – and less processed fruit and veg, which includes tinned and frozen foods. The final box at the bottom right tracks prices of maize meal – the orange snake – and white bread. It does seem that at least these costs of finally stabilising.

Of course, these are not the only things that surveys are useful for. National elections are coming up next year. Everybody, from the
Independent Electoral Commission to the smallest political party have dusted off their crystal balls and are peering into the future.

Graph showing registrant and turnout statistics

  • The topmost red line in their graph shows how the percentage of the population registered to vote has improved marginally over the past ten years or so. A quarter of us had still not registered at the end of 2011. Hence the current registration drive targeting our youth.
  • What really matters is how many of us actually vote. The most recent elections were the 2011 municipal ones, where the number of votes cast was disappointingly low. Apathy is common at local government level. I am sure more South Africans will vote for their national and provincial leaders in 2014.
  • The 2011 statistics are actually even more disappointing when you look deeper. The green line at the bottom shows the percentage of the population who actually voted. I posted this graph to appeal to all of us – that’s me and you – to turn out and vote in 2014.

I wrote this blog to illustrate the usefulness of surveys for the greater good. The ones on Survey Compare are also a great way to make extra money. Why not try a few of them as soon as you have finished reading this. Good luck and happy hunting.