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Why Making Assumptions Can Lead To Wrong Conclusions

I have a confession to make. 

It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure I've never spoken of before.

I like Reader’s Digest. 

I’ve loved reading the iconic little magazines for as long as I can remember. I’ve laughed at their cheesy ‘Life’s Like That’ stories, found myself engrossed in their true-crime articles, and learned some useless facts along the way.  For example, did you know the flush toilet was invented in 1596 by Queen Elizabeth the first’s godson? Neither did I.

With most of its advertising squarely aimed at an older demographic - ads for residential lifts, toilet seat bidets and hearing tests fill the pages - I assumed their main target demo was 55+. However, a 2014 demographic profile I recently stumbled across revealed some surprising results.

In 2014, Readers Digest had a large reach across a wide age range, with its biggest audience in the 35+ category. Breaking down the numbers further, 25-54 was stronger than 50+! Surprisingly, the Reader's Digest audience is much more varied and younger than I had assumed. (Perhaps other advertisers should add the RD to their media-buy list?)

This got me thinking. Too often, our incorrect assumptions guide the decisions we make. Rather than making informed decisions based on facts and data, we go with what we assume is right.

Gut feelings and assumptions are often based on our previous experiences, and they are useful tools. But assumption alone should never solely drive our decision-making because, as I learned with my assumption about the Reader’s Digest audience, it can lead us to the wrong conclusions.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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