One part that deserves extra attention has to do with the complaint that the survey is flawed because smaller brands will get pushed out by the bigger companies. From BJJWeekly.com:
Q. What brands are you including?
A. Over 100 brands are listed, but people are welcome to pick “Other” and write in any missing brands. We tried to gather up as many brand names as possible from online retailers, gear forums, BJJ blogs and the past surveys, but people are still sending in brands I’ve never heard of, especially outside the US.
The trouble for these smaller brands is that unless they get enough reviews, they won’t make it into the final charts. One or two reviews out of thousands of gis isn’t statistically significant. People have complained that the past surveys just promote the top brands and neglect the little guys, but I can only show what’s in the data. If they want to help these underdogs out, they need to represent them by adding their honest reviews.
The gi market seems to be growing steadily, and new brands are popping up all the time, but this has its pros and cons.
Anyone with the money can have a manufacturer in Pakistan, China or Brazil make a batch of uniforms with whatever logos they want. (Thanks to running a martial arts site, I get spam about this all the time.) This gives us flash-in-the-pan companies that disappear after their first batch of knock-offs gets stuck in customs.
(There are also the concerns about sweatshop conditions in these factories, which I don’t know the facts about, so we’ll save that debate for another day.)
On the positive side, we get startups that genuinely do bring cool and creative gis to market, raise the standard for quality and style, or just make a good gi at a fair price. What they lack in sales numbers, they make up for in innovation, attention to detail, specialized designs and materials, excellent customer service and more.
We’d like to see these underdogs get the attention they deserve (as well as the fly by night companies), but as the survey’s administrator, I’m in a peculiar spot when it comes to spotlighting certain brands. Basically, I can’t.
In promoting this survey, I have to be careful not to skew the results or ruin its impartiality. For example, I try not to mention any particular brands, and I haven’t asked any companies to promote it to their customers, fearing a flood of overly positive reviews (though we can account for this bias on our end in the analysis.)
That said, I do want to see more reviews for certain smaller brands so we can see how they rank against the big dogs. In fact, I have a whole list of them, but I’m not sure I should share it.
So what can I do? The strategy is simply to push the overall number of responses up (by doing things like the BJJWeekly.com interview) and hope that with enough people giving reviews, the little companies will get the reviews they need.
How can you help? If you are one of the brave souls that took a bet on a small gi company, make sure to take the survey and give your honest review, good or bad. Then share the survey with your teammates on your gym’s Facebook fan page.
We are getting closer to the goal of 1500 responses—more than any previous survey—and once we hit that magic number, we can crunch the data and publish the results.