Who's complaining? Using MOSAIC to identify the profile of complainants

Michael Volkov*, Debra Harker, Michael Harker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this article is to bring together established research in the field of consumer complaint responses: To contextualise this research into the area of complaints about advertising in Australia; and to empirically test the proposition that it is possible to construct a profile of complainants about advertising in Australia. Design/methodology/approach - Postcodes obtained from the Advertising Standards Board complaints database were entered into Pacific Micromarketing's MOSAIC software, which uses data at the postcode level to cluster individuals into homogeneous groups. Findings - Characteristics shared among consumers who engage in "amplified voicing" include above average income levels, above average disposable income levels, higher than average education levels, professional and associate professional occupations, middle- to late-middle-aged household heads and above average representation of working women. Their interests tend towards culture, technology, entertaining, sport, food and fashion. Research limitations/implications - Complainants seem to be unrepresentative of those most likely to be disadvantaged by "unacceptable" advertising. It is suggested that it now falls to advertising professionals and marketing academics to encourage greater involvement of all members of Australian society in the current complaints process and build wider understanding of practices that contravene the regulatory system. Originality/value - This study investigates the effects of advertising on consumers and hence on society in general, and examines the changing nature and structure of the advertising self-regulatory system in Australia. Though based on fieldwork in Australia, it provides an international perspective, and is potentially transferable to other societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-312
Number of pages17
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Advertising
  • Australia
  • Computer software
  • Consumer behaviour


Dive into the research topics of 'Who's complaining? Using MOSAIC to identify the profile of complainants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this