On the surface the enquiry was an archetypal consumer street survey. The subject was about soap powders. The project was quite limited and modest in scale and with familiar characteristics the same as others. Speed of response and data reporting deadlines are common travelling companions.

We got the go-ahead, booked the interviewers for the location and waited for the questionnaire and show-cards.

To our complete surprise the street survey topic was about the warning signs on the back of washing powder and dishwasher packaging. The questionnaire wanted to know whether consumers were aware of them

One question in particular was notable.

“Do you wear protective goggles and a mask when doing your laundry or washing up.”

The response was unsurprising.

100% of respondents replied, “No”.

This was a wonderful example of the client (and us) being fairly sure what the response would be. But the client needed proof. And the statistical confidence interval validity from the response of what exactly people do – or don’t – get up to when doing their washing!

Meanwhile we are keeping our eye (whilst not wearing goggles) on the national media for the real reasons behind this modest, but we suspect, significant, project.

Soap opera