Too Good to Be True: The High Cost of Cheap Sample


By Rob Berger, Managing Director, Maru/Blue

Cell phones, televisions, solar panels and computers have all fallen dramatically in cost over the past few decades. These price reductions make sense because, with automation, manufacturing costs have decreased significantly.

But what doesn’t make sense is how you can have some sample sources that are so inexpensive that you can conduct a study for what it costs to buy dinner at McDonald’s for a family of four. That sounds too good to be true, and our research suggests it is.

There is one sample source—offered by a very well-known brand—that we have been tracking the quality of for the past five years. It costs less than 15 cents a complete, but the results it delivers are consistently wrong.

In fact, when we compare the results to the same question asked by the Pew Research Center—a very reputable “nonpartisan fact tank”—we find that numbers could hardly be farther apart.

The reason: the approach used fails to treat respondents like people. Instead it treats them like a commodity. And people respond by giving them bad information. To learn more about how seemingly credible research can provide misleading results, download our whitepaper The High Cost of Cheap Sample.

At Maru/Blue we feel it is vitally important to take into account what people like and don’t like about doing surveys. We strive to give people a good survey experience, because we value their input. The result is research that is proven to be reliable

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