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Ethical Issues In Marketing Research (2021 Version)

Ethics in Marketing research refers to moral principles or values that a researcher or research organization should consider. Let’s identify and understand various Ethical Issues in Marketing Research with the help of a suitable example. Following are some issues and considerations regarding respondents rights which the researcher should consider in any marketing research activity.

Ethics in Marketing research, Privacy of respondents data and assurance (Emotional & legal) regarding that is becoming an important part of Marketing research. The CASRO (Council of American survey research organization) has also established a detailed code of marketing research ethics.

Ethically, Sound Research (Good Research) considers the interests of 5 distinct entities which affect by the research process:

  1. The General Public
  2. The respondents in a specific study
  3. The client
  4. The researcher
  5. The research profession

Parties Involved in Marketing Research

Generally, three parties are involved in marketing research –

  1. The client who sponsors the project
  2. The supplier who designs & executes the research
  3. The respondents who provide the information

Code Of Ethics By American Marketing Association (AMA)

The American Marketing Association has established a code of ethics i.e. principles of ethical practices of marketing research. We are explaining these points in simple English. These guidelines are for Research users, interviewers and research practitioners. Please note that the original language & statements of Marketing research code of ethics given by the American Marketing association may differ from this content.

  1. The researcher should collect information for specific marketing research and should not use data for any other purpose such as to attempt the sale of merchandise or services.
  2. The researcher should protect the anonymity and confidentiality of information collected from respondents.
  3. There will be no intentional or deliberate misrepresentation of research methods or results
  4. The interviewer should not use the gathered information for personal use or gain or advantages.
  5. The interviewer should conduct interviews as per instructions and specifications received.

Ethical Issues In Marketing Research And Considerations

Purpose & Use of Data

Collected data should not be used for any other purpose.

Information or data collected from respondents should not be used for any other purpose or for any other research work.

In this case, the researcher plays a crucial role and he can assure respondents about the security of the opinions and information given by the respondent.

Force To Answer

The researcher should not force any respondent for answers.

The researcher can explain the importance or necessity of answer to that question for research work, but he/she should not make compulsion or impel respondents to answer a particular question.

Data Confidentiality

Protection of data or confidentiality of data

  • Researcher or research organization should protect data properly.
  • They should keep confidential data or information very safe and secure.
  • Any client or outside person should not access confidential and important data from the organization.

Personal or Sensitive Questions

In case of personal or sensitive questions, the researcher should give time to respondents to think about it, and refuse to participate in the study.

Researcher or trained staff of appropriate sex can be used to reduce embarrassment caused. For example, suppose questions are related to the female product, then it will be better to select female staff to do the research.

Unbiased and Accurate

Proper, Unbiased and accurate information collection

Marketing researcher should collect accurate information and report to the research organization & client without any bias.

Ethical Issues In Marketing Research Involving the Protection of the Public

The researcher should not product falsified or wrong project or research report.

The falsified report may include –

  1. Incomplete reporting
  2. Misleading reporting
  3. Nonobjective research

We can explain these points with the help of examples-

1. Incomplete Reporting

  • May not disclose potentially damaging information about the product
  • Leaving uninformed about undesirable features or characteristics of the product
  • May hide or omit negative information or may avoid reporting situational details that are necessar

For example, Researcher or organization may concentrate on that area where network or sale or reputation is strong.

2. Misleading Reporting

It may present in such a manner that the audience will draw a conclusion that is not justified by the results mainly observed in advertising campaigns

3. Non-Objective Research

Intentional or deliberate misrepresentation of research methods or results

Example: Conducting research in areas where the firm has an unusually strong distribution system or reputation, this is an example of non-objective research

Ethical issues in Marketing Research Involving the Protection of Respondents

Use of “Marketing research” Guise to sell products

Guise: Illusion, Semblance or misleading by erroneous information, Invasion of Privacy Respondents

Right to privacy

  • Concept of privacy, informed consent and anonymity & confidentiality are three important elements involved in this “right”.
  • Consent: permission to do something, respond favorably to
  • Anonymous: not known name, identity or source

Abuse of respondents

  • Frequently interviewed respondents can be a form of abuse
  • For example – middle class, younger females (20-35) are particularly likely to be interviewed frequently
  • Long interviews may be another reason
  • Asking personal questions which are not required
  • Confusing questions, poorly trained interviewers, hard to read questionnaires, etc.

Ethical Issues Involving the Protection of the Client

  • Protection against abuse of position arose from specialized knowledge
  • Protection against unnecessary research
  • Protection against  unqualified researchers
  • Protection of Anonymity
  • Protection of confidential and proprietary information

Protection against misleading presentations of data

  • Overlay technical jargon
  • failure to round numbers properly
  • Unnecessary use of complex analytic procedures.
  • Incomplete reporting

Ethical Issues in Marketing Research Involving the Protection of the Research Firm

  • Protection against improper solicitation of proposals
  • Protection against disclosure of proprietary information or techniques
  • Protection against the misrepresentation of findings

Ethical Issues in Marketing involving the Protection of the Research Profession

  • Use of Accepted Research Procedures: Marketing researcher should follow sound research procedures or clearly indicate any departure
  • Certification: In the USA or Europe, Anyone can declare themselves to be marketing researchers without any certification or special qualification
  • Inappropriate use of Marketing research techniques: example: political campaigns.


References Used for the post – Ethical Issues in Marketing Research

Below is the list of reference and textbooks used for this article

  1. Marketing Research, Measurement and Method, Sixth Edition, Donald S Tull and Del I Hawkins, Prentice Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi.
  2. Marketing Research, Seventh Edition, Aakar, Kumar and Day, Wiley India Pvt Ltd
  3. Marketing Research, Fourth Edition, G C Beri, McGraw Hill Companies
  4. Marketing Research – text and cases, third edition, Rajendra Nargundkar, McGraw Hill Companies

This is all about Ethical Issues in Marketing Research and list of reference books used. You may also want to read Marketing Research Topics For Presentation.