How we found out that 9 out of 10 cats prefer FreeAgent

Adrian Mather

Senior PR & Media Manager

As consumers, we Brits love a good advertising campaign - especially when they make an outrageously bold claim about the products they promote. 

Whether it’s Shane Richie and the Daz Doorstep Challenge; Fairy Liquid claiming its bottles clean an extra Scout troop’s worth of washing-up; or Pedigree Chum’s assertion that "top breeders recommend it", we’re suckers for a great TV ad tagline. 

One of the best, and most memorable, is probably Whiskas cat food with their infamous "eight out of 10 owners said their cats prefer it" claim. First used back in the 70s, it’s a line that still holds a great deal of nostalgic charm. It also remains a go-to example of product endorsement, despite Whiskas adopting the slightly less-compelling "eight out of 10 owners who expressed a preference said their cat prefers it" following complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority in the mid-1980s.

At FreeAgent, we have our own version of the Whiskas line which we think shows just how important and valuable our software is for small business owners. But rather than hide our research methodology behind an asterisk or footnote, we’re publishing it here instead - so everyone can see just how we arrive at our conclusion. 

At the risk of coming across all L’Oréal on you, here comes the science bit… 

Every six months or so, we send out a survey to our customers asking a range of questions about what they think about using FreeAgent, as well as their thoughts on the big issues facing small businesses. Over the years we’ve asked questions about everything from late payment and mental health to the Covid-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis and Brexit. 

In recent surveys, one of the first things we’ve asked is the following:

Do you think FreeAgent has made you more confident about your business finances compared to your previous method of managing them?

In our most recent survey (completed in October 2023), we had 1,250 responses from customers to this question, which were broken down by the following responses:

Response %
Yes 69.9%
No 3.8%
I don't know 2.6%
I haven’t been using FreeAgent long enough to notice a difference 3.7%
Not applicable (I started using FreeAgent when I first set up my business) 20.1%

(N.B. We know that this actually adds up to 100.1%! This is due to a data rounding issue in the survey tool that we use. To make things as simple as possible, we’ll be calculating using a final total of 100%.)

Great, right? From this raw data, we can see that when we tot up the numbers, seven out of 10 people (69.9%) think FreeAgent has made them more confident about their business finances. 

That’s a brilliant statistic that we could use to shout about our product, but just hold on a minute - because the ‘true’ figure is actually more impressive. 

We’re trying to find out whether people think that FreeAgent has made them more confident about their business finances compared to their previous method of managing them. However, there’s a whole 20.1% of respondents here who didn’t have a previous method, because they started using FreeAgent when they first set up their business. Given the parameters set in the original question, we have to remove those responses from the final result, as they’re actually skewing the data. 

Once we remove that 20.1% from the sample, we can recalculate the percentages in the list above (as the original 69.9% of ‘yes’ responses is now measurable against a total of 79.9% of the sample, rather than the original 100%). 

Using this method, we find that the fairer answer to the question is as follows:

Response %
Yes 87.4%
No 4.8%
I don't know 3.2%
I haven’t been using FreeAgent long enough to notice a difference 4.6%

Rounded up to the nearest whole number, this then gives us a shiny piece of information that we can shout about. Namely that: 

“Nine out of 10 customers think FreeAgent has made them more confident about their business finances (compared to their previous method of managing them)”

Going forward, we’ll be using our customer surveys to uncover more insights about how people feel about using our software. But, for now, if you see a "nine out of 10 cats…" claim about FreeAgent on your travels, you’ll know exactly how we uncovered (and substantiated) that claim.

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