Numbers You Can Rely On

I guess most of us don’t really like to take things at face value, we want the proof, the evidence to back it up and when it comes to marketing that usually means we want the numbers.

For some reason this seems particularly true of beauty products, especially makeup, and advertisers have sussed this, as they do.  At the bottom of the screen (and in print, on the bottom of the page too), there is some small print which is all that is apparently required for us to put faith in this new, life-enhancing, wonderful panacea.

If the numbers are there to give us trust, build our confidence, inspire us to pin our hopes and dreams in this new wonder concoction and put down the readies, why are they so wretchedly small?  And I’m not just talking about the print size.  I mean, have you read them lately?

I admit that about all I pay attention to in these types of adverts are the numbers.  It’s not a maths thing, don’t worry, no chance of that with me.  I do it for the humour value.  The day that I find a survey of 200 women listed I raise a cheer.  Wow, how did they find so many women, surely there can’t be that many on the planet!  It’s always a percentage of these, perhaps honest, that endorses the product.  They aim high.  I wonder who they choose to sample the product, where they find these woman.  Are they anything like you or me?

Personally, I don’t really trust any of those 50-90% of 100 women, no, take that back, I don’t really trust magic potions full stop.  Does that kind of statistic inspire you to buy, do put faith in something new just because some 78% of 119 women say to?  (You can do the maths on that one, thank you.  My instinct tells me it can’t be that many people after all).

Well today they reached new heights of statistical wonderment.  At the bottom of my screen, it was a makeup advert I can tell you that much, what exactly from whom I have no idea, was the statistic.  Ah, the glorious statistic.

75% of 52 women.

I’m sorry?!

Was that just the amount of women they found in the office that day or something?!

That is pathetic.  That’s not a survey, that’s a chat around the ubiquitous water cooler.

I think I surveyed more people’s opinions for GCSE coursework requirements.  This is a national advertising campaign!

OK, rant over.

If you want some fun, check out the small print the next time a beauty product advert rolls onto your screen.

In the mean time, I’m going to ponder over the beauty industry’s exact methodology in these shenanigans, for example what did those 75% of 52 woman agree to – what they just claimed in the advert or something else? or how do they get these (many) women to test the product – once on the back of their hand, a usual day’s wearing or for a sustained and controlled trial period? or what are these women comparing the product to because I’m pretty sure that most of them would usually all use different products unless they’re sample junkies in which case I’m not sure if I’d trust them anyway? or can the average woman make any reasonable or even scientific claim to the better-ness of a product or is she just trusting on a ‘feeling’? or if they could only find 30% of 50 women to like it does that mean the product gets scrapped or do they just go and find another fifty women?  …  Hmm, so many questions.  There may even be more questions than there are surveyed women!


4 thoughts on “Numbers You Can Rely On

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  1. Also, if they could only get 39 of 52 women to say “yay”, just think how the statistic would drop if the number went up. Or MAYBE they surveyed 200 but only reported the findings of 52, because they didn’t dare say 100% liked it and report only 39. Hmm…these are the things that puzzle and bewilder

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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