Election Polls: What the Pollsters Got Right and What Was Missed
24 Nov 2020

There has been a lot of finger-pointing at pollsters about the 2020 election and accusations that the poll results were not accurate. Media has mentioned that the election polls were “as bad” as the 2016 predictions. While the polling research needs some improvement, there are many reasons not to blame the pollsters.

Here are three aspects that are important to understand about the polls: 

  1. Mail-IN Changes the Voting Dynamic.

    COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of people typically vote. As many Americans are looking to socially distance to prevent the spread of the pandemic, many people opted to use mail-in voting. In this year’s primaries, 50.3% of Americans voted by mail. To compare, the 2016 general elections vote-by-mail was only 25% (Pew Research, 2020). Depending on the state, mail voting slows the process. Polls do not predict when a president would win a state’s electoral votes.

  2. Press Skews Survey Findings to Create Sensational Headlines.

    As mentioned in our blog, “Election Polls: Why You Need to Know What Margin of Error Is Right Now,” the margin of error plays a massive part in reading the results correctly. The margin of error lets you know with a certain level of confidence that if the same research methodology was conducted again, the results would be within the same ‘margin.’ Often, this year’s news promoted a specific presidential candidate is winning. However, they were actually tied according to the survey’s margin of error.  

  3. The Popular Vote Was Accurately Predicted For the Presidential Race.

    Both in 2016 and 2020, pollsters accurately predicted the national vote. Where polls have had more difficulty is predicting the state-level elections for presidential and senate races. Why? For a few reasons.

    • By the time polls are at the state level, the number of respondents completing the surveys is much lower than the national levels. The state-level surveys need a large enough pool to ensure that all of the different populations are surveyed. 
    •  In areas that are less densely populated or more diverse, the survey should be distributed via mixed mode: online, cell, landline, and in-person. For example, older populations are more likely to take a phone survey. Acculturated Americans respond more often to in-person questionnaires. 
    • Market research companies need to monitor the appropriate quotas to represent the population (e.g., education, gender). This is especially true with cohorts that may be harder to reach. For example, the Cuban population in Florida. Unfortunately, sometimes the proper surveying methodology takes significant cost and time, which may not always be available to these pollsters.

Read some of our recent case studies and blogs here to learn more about business and consumer research:

  1. Election Polls: Why You Need to Know What Margin of Error is Right Now
  2. The Power of Census Data
  3. COVID-19 and Conducting Market Research

Find Provoke Insights’ research capabilities here or email us at [email protected] with any inquiries.

To learn more about Provoke Insights – Check out SlideShare:

Provoke Insights Market Research & Brand Strategy Capabilities


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DIY Market Research vs. Hiring a Specialist Market Research Company
18 Nov 2020

What are the differences between conducting DIY research or hiring a specialty market research firm? We all research every day. We research what recipes to cook, what products to buy, what news sources to believe, and the list goes on. If you think about it, our life is a culmination of the research we have done. With that said, it can be tempting to assume that it is easy to conduct market research without being a professionally trained market researcher. While this statement may have some truth, it comes with some significant caveats.  This article will outline the pros and cons of researching on your own and with a market research company. 

Pros of DIY Research

Institutional Knowledge

The employees of a company know the company inside and out. They will have the institutional knowledge that is needed to provide background information on a project. If using a market research firm, it is crucial to share as much information as possible to set the team up for success. 


The company conducting the research has total ownership over the project. This pro comes with some perks but also many disadvantages. While you will have the final say over every step, this can cause biases, incorrect approaches, and false results. Working with a research company will mean you can still have the final say on all steps, but it will be the final say on the correct approach. 

Cons of DIY Research


Conducting every stage of the process in-house is exceptionally time-consuming. While you are in charge of questionnaire design to recruitment, you will also be in charge of the entire analysis and reporting. Without the proper infrastructure in place, this can take up months and months of precious time. 

Resources Required

In the same vein as the previous point, if the company does not have the resources in place, it is challenging to efficiently conduct the research. While you can get the resources in place, this will append to the timeline and delay results even further. 

Researcher Bias

While conducting research in-house will allow the researchers to have unmeasured institutional knowledge of the product and brand, it can cause extreme biases. 

Research Errors

Professionally trained market researchers have an eye for detail that is learned with experience. These professionals go through years of training, apprenticeships, internships, studying, and research to get to where they are. 

The researchers can spot any errors in a study and hiring them will allow a brand to avoid errors altogether. As there are many opportunities for errors in market research studies. To clarify, some of the errors to look out for include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Selection of improper methodology design;
  • Poor data collection methods;
  • Inadequate sample design, size, or poor participant quality;
  • Incorrect logic;
  • Improper use of statistical procedures;
  • Difficult to understand report.

Pros of a Market Research Firm

Unbiased Research

A market research firm will remain entirely impartial for the study and ensure that the design and results are free from subjective viewpoints and tendencies. The unbiased results are critical to ensure the results are reliable, but it is also a significant benefit when getting published. If a company is looking to use the results to position itself as a thought leader, you will be more likely to get the study published if it comes from an established research company rather than the company trying to position itself.  

Takes Up Less Time

Research companies have all of the tools in place to kick off a project and get you a report with analysis and recommendations within a standard timeframe (depending on the company) of 2-8 weeks. 

Best Practices When Hiring a Specialist

Market research companies are experienced and know all of the best practices from conducting research, free from mistakes or biases. The job of a researcher is to reduce the number of errors. 


A market research firm will have a higher research standard based on the experience and tools/resources available to the team. As a result of the training and education that they have studied, the quality will be improved. 

Cons of Market Research Firm


While the temptation to conduct research in-house is often led by the attractiveness of not paying out for professional research, it is not a huge cost when you consider the time saved. 

To learn more about working with a market research firm, you can read more in the following articles: 

Thinking about conducting market research?  Check out Provoke Insights research services here.


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How Market Research Can Help You Open Up In A New Economy
10 Nov 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed business as we know it. At the start of the pandemic, companies had to create new solutions and find different ways to interact with consumers.

Among many other things, the pandemic altered the economy and business operations in unknown ways. Some of these changes are the following:

eCommerce became crucial: products that used to only be sold in-person are now sold online.
Because of this, many services shifted online and are now completely virtual.

Businesses that remained accessible in-person were transformed by the introduction of safety precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing.

A portion of products and services that were previously in high demand have become a thing of the past.

As potential vaccines continue to move forward, everyone is beginning to imagine what the post-COVID 19 economy will look like. Overall, businesses will face a new challenge of figuring out how to bring customers back to the same products and services that they enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

Opening Up Your Business in the Post-COVID Economy 

This challenge needs to be faced with an effective strategy, and that’s where market research comes in. Hence, by conducting research in the next few months, companies can paint an accurate picture of what their business should look like going into 2021.

Market research companies can provide consumers insights on what they enjoyed pre-COVID, what priorities are in this economy, and what will make them feel safe as the economy opens up.

Changed Consumer Behavior Forever

The pandemic caused permanent changes to consumer behavior and preferences. Because of this, market research will help companies account for the shifts that occured since then. Additionally, they will be able to understand what changes consumers want to keep post-COVID. For instance, consumers have the desire for retail and food companies to continue offering delivery and curbside pick-up options beyond the pandemic.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a significant amount of changes to the way we conduct business. As companies imagine what the post-COVID economy will be, they must create strategic approaches for opening up. Strong market research will ensure that they are not catering to trends that might not exist anymore.

Read some of our recent case studies and blogs here to learn more about business and consumer research:

  1. COVID-19 and Conducting Market Research
  2. Conducting Market Research in Localized Areas
  3. Differences Between B2B and Consumer Qualitative Research

Thinking about conducting market research? Check out Provoke Insights research services here.

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Jewelry Industry Consumer and Retail Market Study – PR Newswire
09 Nov 2020

Jewelers of America published a press release for 2017 research conducted by Provoke Insights that studied both consumer and retailers of the fine jewelry purchase funnel. The research found that half of jewelry consumers think that jewelry has sentimental value, and that over one-fifth of consumers have bought for jewelry themselves. On the B2B side, 39% of retailers’ top competition comes from online jewelry sales.