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Populus Data Solutions were approached by leading media agency MediaCom to design a solution on behalf of Universal Music to test the appeal of different CD cover designs amongst their target audience of 6-8 year olds and provide insight into listening habits. The challenge of the brief was to design a solution that provided insight into young children’s listening habits/music preferences, which could also establish how this target audience would instinctively react to the CD covers if they were seen. This couldn’t be met through an explicit survey approach alone, as this would rely too much on a rational and conscious (system 2) approach.


Populus Data Solutions designed an online survey solution built to engage with kids and collaborated with House51, experts in applying behavioural economics to research, who designed an implicit response test within the survey. This was used to bypass children’s rational, conscious thoughts and assess their automatic (system 1) attitudes and reactions to the CD covers.


Key features included:


Bespoke kids survey template design that was visually engaging to children


On screen avatar to read out the questions to respondents and aid children’s understanding


Video VoxPops were collected to provide feedback on the survey design and to check respondents’ understanding


The insights delivered provided clear guidance for a major decision about a future album release for Universal Music and directly informed the marketing strategy. The innovative, implicit response technique was successful in providing another layer of insight with which to analyse results from the explicit survey. This meant that instinctive and emotional responses played an important role in producing the most powerful CD cover design. Ultimately, without the implicit test, a winning design that is likely to resonate with the target audience would not have been established. We were awarded the MRS Operations Award for Best Data Solution 2016 as a result.


“The solution from PDS broke new ground in applying an implicit response test to a kid’s audience and they combined this with claimed behaviour questions in a single solution that delivered in less than 2 weeks. Key for us was the engaging approach of the survey solution for kids. By including an on screen avatar to read out the questions we had certainty that the kids responding had understood the questions we were asking and therefore gave us results we can trust.”


Hanna Lubin, Research Manager