Gallup, the research company renowned for polling U.S. consumers, was recently criticized for reporting on the “State of American Consumer” using outdated information.

In his blog post, Christopher Heine, writer for AdWeek, slammed Gallup for using information from 2012 to measure the impact of social media on U.S. consumers’ purchasing decisions. The report claimed that 62 percent of Americans said social media has no effect on their decisions to purchase. What is even more surprising – the report stated that a whopping 43 percent of millennial shoppers are unaffected.

Heine states, “These claims have caused a pretty good media ruckus despite having a methodology that appears flawed on multiple levels.” He goes on to explain that the surveys were conducted in December 2012 and January 2013 – a lifetime ago for social media – and that most of the platforms have gone through major overhauls during that timeframe. For example, Facebook’s mobile ad program was in its infancy, as were Twitter’s targeting capabilities, Tumblr and Pinterest weren’t widely-used in e-commerce and Vine, Instagram and Snapchat were “non-factors” then.

Other critics are backing up Heine’s claims, including Rebecca Leib, an analyst at Altimeter, who called their survey methodology deeply flawed and not objective enough. “You don’t poll consumers whether advertisements or marketing make them buy stuff. People will always say, ‘No, I am not influenced by advertising and marketing.’” She goes on to say companies should use more objective means to assess the effectiveness of marketing and advertising, like conversions and sales.

In conclusion, Heine does commend unbiased organizations like Gallup for conducting research on consumer behaviors, but believes it needs to be done more frequently to keep up with the constant changes in social media. Read the full article.


ChristaH. “Gallup Gets Walloped: ‘State of American Consumer’ is Flawed Report”. 6/30/2014.