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ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research



The first Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice was published by ESOMAR in 1948. This was followed by a number of codes produced by national bodies and by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). In 1976 ICC and ESOMAR agreed that it would be preferable to have a single international code instead of two differing ones and a joint ICC/ESOMAR Code was published the following year 1777. This was revised and updated in 1986 and 1994, making the current version the fourth edition of the ICC/ESOMAR Code, under a slightly altered title.

Effective communication between the providers and consumers of goods and services of all kinds is essential to any modern society. There are many methods of gathering information, and the channels available are multiplying with the development and user of internet-based technologies and other interactive media. One of the most important methods of gathering information is by using market research, which in this Code is taken to include social and opinion research. Market research depends for its success on public confidence – that it is carried out honestly, objectively and without unwelcome intrusion or disadvantage to its participants. The publishing of this Code is intended to foster public confidence and to demonstrate practitioners’ recognition of their ethical and professional responsibilities in carrying out market research.

The self-regulatory framework responsible for implementing this Code has been successfully in place for many years. The use of codes of this nature and their implementation have been referred to and accepted as best practice worldwide, as a recognized means of providing an additional layer of consumer protection.


Purpose of the code



This code is designed primarily as a framework for self-regulation. With this in mind, ICC/ESOMAR recommends the worldwide use of the Code, which intends to fulfill the following objectives:

  • to set out the ethical rules which market researchers shall follow;
  • to enhance the public’s confidence in market research by emphasizing the rights and safeguards to which they are entitled under this Code;
  • to emphasize the need for a special responsibility when seeking the opinions of children and young people;
  • to safeguard freedom for market researchers to seek, receive and impart information (as embodied in article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political rights);
  • to minimize the need for governmental and/or intergovernmental legislation or regulation.

Key fundamentals of the Code



The Code is based on these key fundamentals:

  1. Market researchers shall conform to all relevant national and international laws.
  2. Market researchers shall behave ethically and shall not do anything which might damage the reputation of market research.
  3. Market researchers shall take special care when carrying out research among children and young people.
  4. Respondents’ cooperation is voluntary and must be based on adequate, and not misleading, information about the general purpose and nature of the project when their agreement to participate is being obtained and all such statements shall be honoured.
  5. The rights of respondents as private individuals shall be respected by market researchers and they shall not be harmed or adversely affected as the direct result of cooperating in a market research project.
  6. Market researchers shall never allow personal data they collect in a market research project to be used for any purpose other than market research.
  7. Market researchers shall ensure that projects and activities are designed, carried out, reported and documented accurately, transparently and objectively.
  8. Market researcher shall conform to the accepted principles of fair competition.


Scope of the Code


The Code applies to all market research. It should be read in conjunction with other ICC and ESOMAR codes and guidelines, principles and framework interpretations, available at www.iccwbo.org or www.esomar.org.

The Code sets minimum standards of ethical conduct to be followed by all researchers and clients and is to be applied against the background of applicable law and of any stricter standards or rules that may be required in any specific market. Information about such requirements are available through ESOMAR.

Interpretation


The Code is to be applied in the spirit as well as to the letter. Acceptance of this International Code is a condition of membership of ESOMAR and of all other bodies that have officially adopted the Code.

Definitions


a) Market research, which includes social and opinion research, is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals and organisations using the statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social sciences to gain insight or support decision making. The identity of respondents will not be revealed to the user of the information without explicit consent and no sales approact will be made to them as a direct result of their having provided information.

b) Researcher is defined as any individual or organisation carrying out, or acting as a consultant on, a market research project, including those working in client organisations.

c) Client is defined as any individual or organisation that requests, commissions or subscribes to all or any part of a market research project.

d) Respondent is defined as any individual or organisation from which information is collected for the purposes of a market research project, whether they are aware of it or not, or is approached for interview.

e) Interview is defined as any form of contact with a respondent in order to collect information for market research pruposes.

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pdfESOMAR_Codes&Guidelines_NotesHowToApplyCode (.pdf 173KB)