Ethics of Market Research

Without ethics in market research though, companies can face major public backlash and innocent lives could be ruined.

It is very important to have ethics in marketing research because everyone involved from the clients and the public to the respondents and the researchers all have rights and obligations. When market research methods don’t involve ethics, lines are easily crossed and laws are broken.

When the importance of ethics in marketing research is overlooked, companies can face serious ethical repercussions and drastically impact the lives of consumers. Thanks to the rise of the internet and social media, market research methods have exploded and it’s now easier than ever before to conduct low-cost market research. Without ethics in market research though, companies can face major public backlash and innocent lives could be ruined.

That's why research guidelines are designed to protect a company’s workers, its customers, and the validity of the information gathered, but the risk or reward for certain guidelines are not always clear. How can your small business get the cost-effective marketing research you need while still upholding multiple codes of ethics?


Defining Ethics 


Ethics, in a broad sense of the word, is difficult to define. Personal ethics tend to differ from person to person, however, each industry has a generally accepted, even if not published, code of ethics. Infusing ethics throughout your business matters because it reflects both the beliefs your organization holds and on you personally.


Marketing research is such a ubiquitous mission that it applies to the business, charity, and academic worlds. For this reason, there are different codes of ethics for different types of marketing and research, such as social media marketing, marketing towards children, and public opinion elections.


Why Ethics is Important in Market Research


Research is a large part of a successful marketing strategy. To market effectively, you should know your target audience, what they need and want, and the best means to reach potential clients. All of these require thoughtful, informed, and ethical research.


Unfortunately, Market research is often manipulated or refuted because it holds so much power to influence. We’ve all seen the stories on the news of fake market research.

Falsified research can result in product recalls, misleading claims for investors, and threats to the safety of users.


Those are some main point why ethics is important in market research:


Privacy is a major concern for customers today, especially after the many impropriety of companies misusing customer information. With companies having an unmatched ability to collect and store massive amounts of customer data, the importance of ethics in marketing research has never been higher. While there are many market research methods to collect and use customer information to sell products or target advertising messages, conquering the privacy of customers is a risky business that never pays off in the end.


     Rights and Obligations:

Everyone involved in the market research operation, from clients and researchers to the public and respondents, has rights and obligations they expect to be met. From biased research methods and the occupation of privacy to unqualified research methods and twisting, understanding ethics in marketing research is the best and only way to meet the rights and obligations of all parties involved in the market research. Paying attention to the ethical importance of meeting the rights and obligations of everyone involved is the best way to avoid any unethical concerns when it comes to your market research methods.


     Deceptive Practices: 

The importance of ethics in marketing research doesn’t just apply to the way participants are treated but market research methods as well. Companies today have more access to customer data than ever before and this amount of access can easily lead to false practices. Practices, like corrupt research results and not reveal to consumers that their data is being collected, make understanding why ethics in marketing research is more important than ever before. Lying and deceiving customers to access and gather information is ethically wrong and could backfire in a devastating way.



Understanding what a violation of confidentiality is can help your company avoid ethical issues when it comes to your market research methods. The importance of ethics in marketing research is to help companies avoid any illegal sharing of customer data, whether it’s sharing information with affiliates or selling that information to outside companies. Breaking of confidentiality are great ways to discourage market research respondents from participating in any future market research methods and receive public backlash for your unethical practices.


Here is a list of the things you can do and things you can not do to apply ethical market research.