Don’t Assume Your Voice Will Be Heard
The important thing to remember about paid online surveys is that they will, in many cases, have been commissioned by companies wanting to know what the public really think. The company is not naïve enough to think that the public will give unbiased answers in a poll commissioned by a specific company, so they wisely keep their name only as prominent as those of their competitors in any paid survey. For example, if a rep for Budweiser asks you directly what beer you drink, you will be more likely to say “Budweiser” because social compliance dictates that we tell people what they want to hear.
The anonymity of paid online surveys means that companies will give more weight to an answer than if it were given face-to-face. Sitting with friends and complaining about the prevailing behavior of a major company may have the affect of blowing off a little steam, but unless one of your friends is a lobbyist for a major company there is little end benefit to doing so. Instead of assuming that your voice will be heard, it is important to make it heard by participating in market research. If you don’t vote in elections and then complain when they are won by the person you most dislike, then it is partly your fault for not participating.
A president is different from a cola, of course, but the principle is the same. Participatory democracy can work in the most surprising of ways, but what you do not want is for everyone else’s voice to be heard more than yours.