What is Frugging? | Market Research 101

What is  Frugging

"I am on the Do Not Call List. Stop calling me." Working in market research, this response from a resident answering their phone is heard far too often. In essence, surveys are meant to help the general consumer by improving products and services, determining the appropriate price point for products and services, and provide an avenue for them to voice displeasure about an experience. So you may be asking, "where does the negativity when answering the phone stem from?" It's largely driven by a select number of variables.

One may argue it's just human nature. When a person is spending time with family, eating dinner, or relaxing on the couch, they simply don't want to be bothered. However, another significant contributor to this negativity has been pushy sales calls and unethical practices from non-market research companies over the years. This practice has lowered a person's tolerance to answering calls from unknown callers. Although ethical, this includes telemarketing. But unfortunately, telemarketing doesn't help market research.

There are also a few unethical practices. One of those is called frugging. What is frugging? Frugging is fund raising or requesting donations under the guise of a survey or other form of market research. While frugging, the caller attempts to fool the respondent by stating he or she is conducting a survey, but the questions ultimately address or lead to commitment to a donation. Frugging creates a bad name for market research because it makes respondents leery and skeptical of phone calls regardless of whether the surveys are legit or not.


Here is an example of a mini frugging script:

  • Caller: Are you aware of the organization named ABC Health?
  • Respondent: No.
  • Caller: ABC Health offers healthcare assistance to low-income families in your area.
  • Caller: What is your impression of the ABC Health organization?
  • Respondent: Positive.
  • Caller: In a typical year does your household donate to non-profit organizations like ABC Health?
  • Respondent: Yes, sometimes we donate a little to non-profits.
  • Caller: How likely would you be to donate to ABC Health in the next 6 months?
  • Respondent: Somewhat likely, we'd consider it I suppose.
  • Caller: How much of a donation would you be willing to give to ABC Health?
  • Respondent: I would donate around $10.
  • Caller: How would you like to be billed for your donation to ABC Health?

As you can see in the example above, the caller clearly leads the respondent down the path of offering up a donation to ABC Health through his or her survey questions. The conversation turned from general survey questions to an actual donation to ABC Health. Don't let the few unethical call centers fool you and taint your opinion of the credible market research firms. The ethical market research firms and call centers will never conduct a practice like frugging.


Drive Research is a telephone survey company in Syracuse, NY. Read more about our market research services here. Have a question about your next phone survey project or need advice? Contact Drive at info@driveresearch.com or call us at 315-303-2040.

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