Home » News & Speeches » ICC and ESOMAR unveil revised international code of conduct for market and social research

Stronger data protection and privacy for people who participate in surveys is one important focus of the latest revision of the leading International Code of Conduct for Market and Social Research.

The code, developed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and ESOMAR, has been revised to strengthen consumer protection and confidence and is applicable worldwide.  It takes into account recent developments in technology and privacy issues in conducting market, opinion and social research.

The revised ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research promotes the principles of ethical practice and professional conduct worldwide. It is being distributed to legislators, the public and researchers on a global basis.

The Code sets universal standards that can be accepted and applied by different cultures. It reflects an international consensus of views about fundamental principles that govern market research activities.

The revised Code was overwhelmingly approved by ESOMAR members and by the ICC Executive Board.

Véronique Jeannin, ESOMAR Director General, said: “Market research depends on public confidence for its success – that it is carried out honestly, objectively and without unwelcome intrusion or disadvantage to its participants. The revised Code covers all market, opinion and social research whether face to face or applying Internet-based technologies, and is especially valuable in emerging markets where legislation on data privacy or consumer protection may not be present. In clearly distinguishing market research from direct marketing and sales and strengthening assurances to respondents, it sets out clearer standards that will build consumer protection and confidence.”

ESOMAR has promoted the use of a market research professional code since 1948 and joined with ICC in 1977 to create a single umbrella code for the global market research industry. The current version is the fourth edition of the Code.

“With more focused definitions, the revised ICC/ESOMAR Code is easily accessible and usable,” said John F. Manfredi, Chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising. “The streamlined and concise format parallels the new Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications Practice. Its contents reflect a consensus of view of best practice and ethics on such fundamental issues as data protection and privacy.”

By setting out clear standards that market research professionals and their clients should adhere to, the revised Code demonstrates practitioners’ recognition of their ethical and professional responsibilities in carrying out market research. ICC and ESOMAR members worldwide are committed to the professional and ethical standards embodied in the ICC/ESOMAR International Code.

The key differences from earlier versions are:

  • The new Code is more streamlined and concise, making it more easily accessible and understandable for non researchers.
  • Its definitions are more focused making it easier to distinguish market research from other activities like direct marketing and sales.
  • Its content deals with current issues, including data protection and privacy and it strengthens assurances to respondents about data privacy guarantees.
  • In strengthening assurances to respondents, it sets out clearer standards which will build consumer protection and confidence.

The objectives in revising the code were to:

  • Promote the principles of ethical and professional conduct.
  • Maintain global consistency which is augmented with more detailed national rules.
  • Clearly distinguish and separate market research from direct marketing and sales.
  • Strengthen assurances to respondents about data privacy guarantees.
  • Summarize requirements in a concise and readable way.
  • Ensure that the text is sufficiently comprehensive to be accepted by legislators as an effective vehicle for self-regulation.
  • Strengthen the link to business practice.