MRC Drops Bomb On Simmons: National Consumer Study Flawed

In a potentially crippling blow to the multicultural marketing and advertising world, the Media Rating Council announced September 18 that it has withdrawn its accreditation of Simmons Market Research’s National Consumer Study.

The MRC made the announcement in what one media B2B publication labeled “unusual.”  Specifically, the MRC noted that the Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study–a key data supplier for multicultural research reports conducted by such companies as Mintel–had lost its double-checkmarks from the MRC. NHCS data has been considered the “gold standard” by industry observers for Hispanic consumer behavior; NHCS data was used for portions of the 2014 Hispanic Market Overview report, distributed by and prepared by The Adam R Jacobson Consultancy.

The Media Rating Council board “reached its decision on an independent audit of the 2012 National Consumer Study.” The audit was “carefully reviewed” by a large audit committee representing MRC media constituencies, in addition to ad agencies and advertisers–after Simmons was afforded the opportunity to respond to the audit findings.

The audit in particular called out “declines in service performance metrics.” However, 2010 and 2011 data also reportedly came into question, in particular over Hispanic sample sizes, in addition to Black and Asian sample sizes. The MRC notes that Simmons is “already taking steps to address the concerns communicated by MRC.”

MRC Executive Director and CEO George Ivie commented that Simmons intends to work closely with MRC. “We look forward to a time when accreditation of the Simmons National Consumer Study can be reinstated.”

Each year, tens of thousands of households participate in the National Consumer Survey, which gathers information on the lifestyles, media habits, and product/brand preferences of American families through self-administered diary books. Hispanic families may receive a Spanish-language book; the books are also customized for teens to make it more appealing for them to provide consumer data information to Simmons.

The Simmons NCS had been accredited by non-profit industry association MRC since 2005. It is the only service submitted for MRC accreditation by Simmons.

This isn’t the first time the MRC has stepped in to address concerns about sample sizes and subsequent data releases effecting Hispanic advertising and media operations–the board has famously been a thorn in Arbitron’s side (and now that of Nielsen Audio) for its scrutiny of PPM-based radio listening estimates. Many markets lack PPM accreditation, and there have been no public updates about accreditation of more markets.


Adam R Jacobson


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