One of the biggest challenges that we face as market researchers is the fact that many people aren’t quite sure what we actually do.
The public often confuse us with sales people, can you really blame them for that?
Only this morning, I’ve taken a call from a company claiming to be conducting a lifestyle survey, when I know that they are selling my answers to other companies as sales leads.
I know this, because I’ve tested them when they’ve called previously –
I said “yes” to the question, “Is your washing machine more than 4 years old?”, and the next day received a call from a washing machine warranty company.
I said “yes” to the question, “Are you looking to replace any windows and doors in your property in the next 12 months?” and, later that week, I had 4 (yes FOUR) calls from 4 different double-glazing companies.
BUT a bona fide market researcher will never attempt to sell you anything and will not pass on your details to anyone without your permission. Our work does assist with marketing strategy and we do help companies increase sales – but not by selling to the people we speak to!
The industry body in the UK is the Market Research Society (MRS). This is how the they describe themselves (taken from www.mrs.org.uk) –
“The Market Research Society (MRS) is the world’s leading research association. For all those who need, use, generate or interpret the evidence essential to making good decisions for commercial and public policy.
The quality standards, suitability and sustainability of evidence is important because evidence matters to decision makers.
MRS is dedicated to the support, promotion and enrichment of the research and business world.
With members in more than 60 countries, MRS is the world’s largest research association serving all those with professional equity in provision or use of market, social and opinion research, and in business intelligence, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy.”
As a member of the MRS I abide by their Code of Conduct, a document which sets out the professional standards that researchers must maintain.
There are 60 standards in all, covering every aspect of the research process. Below is a selection of these standards, demonstrating that the MRS places respondents at the heart of the process.
1.Members must ensure that research conforms to the national and international legislation relevant to a given project, including in particular the Data Protection Act 1998 or other comparable legislation applicable outside the UK.
12. Members must ensure that research purposes are clearly distinguished from direct marketing.
16. Members must ensure that participants give their informed consent where personal data are collected directly from them.
26. Members must ensure that the anonymity of participants is preserved unless participants have given their informed consent for their details to be revealed or for attributable comments to be passed on.
30. Members must ensure that participant details are not passed on to a third party for research or any other purposes without the prior consent of the participant.
35. Members must ensure that participants are not misled when being asked to take part in a project.
38. Members must take reasonable steps to ensure that [the following] activities do not take place before 9am Monday to Saturday, 10am Sunday or after 9pm any day, unless by prior agreement.
A full copy of the MRS Code of Conduct can be found here.
The problem of confusing market researchers with sales people has become so prevalent now that it even has a name: “sugging” – selling under the guise of research. A legitimate research company would not act in this way and will have clear processes in place to reassure people they approach if they had any concerns.
The MRS have a helpline, 0800 975 9955, where you can report instances of companies who claim to be conducting research, whereas you believe they are actually list-building to sell your data onto someone else.
It’s a worrying trend and researchers need to continue to report those who are acting against our code of conduct.
If you are thinking of conducting research but unsure of the best way to proceed, then please give me a call, I’d be happy to talk through your options with you. Or, if you want the research taken off your hands completely, then I can do that for you too.