In what could be an important pointer to future market research methodology, the BBC TV consumer affairs programme Watchdog has become the first TV show in Britain to survey public opinion via text messages.

The research was developed by MORI and used to gauge views on the controversial MMR vaccine, showing that half of respondents think it is safe.

“We have recruited a panel of 2,800 people who are willing to vote by text message anyplace, anywhere,” revealed Watchdog editor Doug Carnegie. “It takes quick TV polling out of the tired format of a self-selecting group ringing in to have a rant.”

A major benefit of using text messaging, according to MORI project director Joel Down, is the wide range of people it can reach in comparison with the web. “Three-quarters of the British population use a mobile phone, compared to less than half who use the internet, and text messaging is more socially inclusive,” he explained. “Texting is also much more immediate – and you can do it anywhere!”

Watchdog plans to continue employing this methodology throughout its current series.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff