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Home arrow Marketing Research News arrow Latest Market Research Findings arrow MRS Delphi Group research reveals what sways voters
MRS Delphi Group research reveals what sways voters PDF Print E-mail
Written by Market Research Society   
15 Sep 2015

The MRS Delphi Group, the think tank set up by the Market Research Society (MRS), has collaborated with TNS to conduct bespoke research into several of the factors that affect democratic engagement in the UK.  The research released today to mark the UN International Day of Democracy concludes the project entitled ‘From Baked Beans to the Ballot Box’, which saw leading industry figures share their ideas for improving democratic engagement through a series of personal articles.

The research reveals that despite the increased use of social media by political campaigns, the general public still turn primarily to traditional media sources to inform themselves about political issues.  Nearly three quarters of us (73%) use TV to stay informed, while 54% cite newspapers and 52% online news outlets to shape their political views.  In contrast less than a third (27%) use Facebook while 18% use YouTube and 15% Twitter.  This means that despite increased focus on social media channels, traditional media still dominates when it comes to influencing people’s political opinions, with 81% of us using some form of traditional media (TV, newspapers, online news and radio) and only 34% relying on social media (Facebook, YouTube or Twitter).
 
The MRS Delphi Group also interviewed members of RNet, its network of young researchers, and recorded their responses verbatim.  In many cases rather than making a choice between consumption of traditional or social media, different sources are often considered together to give the entire picture: cross-referencing has become the norm.  One respondent noted that: “What happens now is that I have primary and secondary sources.  So whilst I may get the initial “traditional” political story through the BBC, a newspaper or on the radio it doesn’t end there.  Because of the erosion of trust in the British media establishment I now also supplement the journalistic opinion with secondary softer sources such as Facebook, LinkedIn, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed etc.  Through a combination of these ... I arrive at an opinion.”
 
Jane Frost CBE, MRS’ Chief Executive and founder of the MRS Delphi Group, said: “What’s striking is how the perception of trust varies – some participants trusted traditional journalism and discounted social media as too opinion-based, whilst others felt recent events had actually left trust in the mainstream media establishment severely undermined.  The result is that voters are no longer taking any one source at face value.  We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, which has enabled us to become smarter about how we consume material.  This can only be positive – it ensures that those who are instrumental in helping to inform political opinion remain accountable.”
 

The research also revealed that national and local issues, rather than European or global ones are what matters when it comes to influencing our vote.  46% of us are influenced ‘a lot’ by UK issues when we vote, falling to 22% who are influenced significantly by European issues and only 17% by global ones.  Tim Britton, former UK CEO at YouGov, explains: “Localism also definitely has a part to play here, particularly in northern England and Scotland where around a third of participants said local and regional issues were very influential.  Elsewhere, it’s around 25% of us that give local issues such precedence.”
 
Jane Frost CBE continues: “The questions we’ve asked here really just scratch the surface, but that’s the beauty of such a broad topic.  What we hope to do is spark curiosity around political engagement, and set in motion meaningful conversations within the market research sector and beyond.”
 
‘From Baked Beans to the Ballot Box’ includes reflections from the likes of Sir Robert Worcester, Jeremy Bullmore and Deborah Mattinson.  MRS has today published two new contributions from Will Goodhand, UK Board Director at TNS and Colin Strong, Managing Director at Verve ventures.
 
To read the complete article series and access the full paper “The Politics of Persuasion” please go to: www.mrs.org.uk/democracy
 
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