Is doing research in London skewing your results?

May 18, 2016

We estimate over 60% of UK, studio-based, qualitative market research takes place in London (*), most of which will use London-based respondents. Londoners accounts for 13% of the UK population and a key question is how representative is this 13% of the whole UK population?

Most qualitative research aims to provide a snapshot of opinion using just a handful of respondents, often by reflecting the average UK Joe or Josephine, and taking into account a range of different socio-economic backgrounds, a medley of interests and any number of online browsing behaviours.

What we have noticed from observing countless research sessions in the last 15 years all over the UK is that respondents in London are not your average Brit, and certainly not representative of the UK as a whole.

With this in mind, we thought it was high time we evidenced our thoughts and discovered if there really is a skew. By taking a look at a few simple demographic measurements and comparing London, the South West – the region we recruit for at Web Usability HQ – and the UK average we came across some interesting results.

web-usability-comparison-report On average, Londoners had higher salaries, spent more on houses, qualified to a higher level and were more likely to live alone than the average Briton.

While we are not suggesting the research community should avoid London – with 9 million inhabitants and thousands of interesting businesses there’s a lot of useful insight to be had – but we are suggesting a research trip outside the capital may be worthwhile to gain more a more representative view of the market.

Fear not city dwellers, leaving the big smoke does not equal a step back in time. State-of-the-art viewing facilities with technology to rival even the very best London location do exist. Take a tour of the newly revamped Web Usability Viewing Facility, for example, and add a new perspective to your research.

Sources

* Based on Web Usability’s estimate of the number of qualitative research agencies and research studios located in London as listed on the AQR directory.

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