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Why Marketers Should Attribute Statistical Claims

If you’re wondering whether marketers should attribute their statistical claims, you probably take random “four out of five doctors” statements at face value……..or you author them.

Is the Moon Really Made of Cheese?

Either way, the reason is credibility with your target audience. If you want to claim the moon is made of cheese, back it up with someone from NASA and someone else from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. If you can get support from both sources, you will be on your way to convincing a lot of people of the fact. A corroborating quotation from British Physicist Steven Hawking would also help.

Marketing claims-especially statistics-without attribution, corroboration or validation aren’t worth much. (I, of course, don’t have any evidence to make this claim, but trust me. OK).

True, you can do fantastically well in the short term by making stuff up. Reebox and Skechers have sold hundreds of millions of dollars selling tone-your-butt shoes, with erroneous claims later determined by the FTC to have been false and misleading. I prefer integrating a bit more honesty in the marketing work I do. (If I didn’t bear this moral hair shirt, I would have long ago sought a massively compensated communications gig with a tobacco company).

So I find a claim by a crowd-funded company called Morpher a little hard to swallow. It’s probably innocuous to most, but to this cyclist, it stood out.

<Editorial note for credibility’s sake: I ride a fair bit – bike commuting, early-morning training rides, and weekend sojourns to dessert shops. Part of my attire is a ubiquitous bike helmet. I have no problem wearing one because I crashed in 2002 and hit my head on a sidewalk. But for a blue Bell hardshell and I would have likely fractured my skull.>

Morpher and Marketing Claims

Morpher thinks it has a solution to putting more helmets on urban riders’ heads; sell a foldable helmet. I don’t buy the solution; non-foldable helmets seem to do a fine job in protecting heads, to the extent that a helmet will protect you if you hit the ground, or a bus hits you.

To support its “The Helmet for People Who Won’t Wear Current Bike Helmets” proposition, Morpher makes three statistical claims about wearing or not wearing helmets. None are attributed in any way. The one I found completely unbelievable is the assertion that “83% of bike scheme riders don’t wear a helmet due to lack of portability.”

Unattributed Marketing Claims from Morpher

Prove It

I just don’t believe it. Maybe this is true, but there is nothing to back up this statement. Show me the source. A bike helmet weighs less than a pound. I’ve worked in a lot of buildings where people commuted by bike, and nobody seem to be bothered by having to lock their helmet to their bike or carry their bike helmet to their desk.

I’m highly skeptical of the claim, and thus, skeptical of this company. Maybe I’m just in a tiny minority but I want the origin of this statement. As a prospective customer (well, not really, but you get the idea), the company needs to convince me. Instead, they seem to be stretching credulity beyond the breaking point.

Is it really that hard to understand why marketers should attribute statistical claims?