Ethics in Marketing research refers to moral principles or values that researcher or research organization should consider. Here we have tried to focus on Ethical issues in Marketing Research. Following are the some issues and considerations regarding respondents rights which 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 in Marketing research.

The CASRO (Council of american survey research organization) has also established a detailed code of marketing research ethics.

Ethically sound research considers the interests of the general public, the respondents, the clients and the research profession as well as those of researcher.

Their are 5 distinct entities which affects by research process –

1. The General Public

2. The respondents in specific study

3. The client

4. The researcher

5. The research profession

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 provides the information

Ethical issues and considerations in Marketing Research

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

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

2. Researcher should not force any respondent for answers.

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

3. 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 organization.

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

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

5. Proper, Unbiased and accurate information collection

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

The American Marketing association has established 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: The original language & statements of Marketing research code of ethics given by 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 sale of merchandise or services.

2. Researcher should protect anonymity and confidentiality of information collected from respondents.

3. There will be no intentional or deliberate mispresentation of research methods or results

4. Interviewer should not use gathered information for personal use or gain or advantages.

5. Interviewer should conduct interviews as per instructions and specifications received.

Ethical Issues Involving Protection of the Public

Researcher should not product falsified or wrong project or research reposrt.

The falsified report may include –

a. Incomplete reporting

b. Misleading reporting

c. Nonobjective research

We can explain these points with the help of examples-

1. Incomplete Reporting

May not disclose potentially damaging information about 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 necessary

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

2. Misleading Reporting

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. Nonobjective 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 involving protection of respondents

1. Use of “Marketing research” Guise to sell products

(Guise: Illusion, Semblance or misleading by erroneous information)

2. 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 )

3. 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 arised 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 Involving protection of the research firm

Protection against improper solicitation of proposals

Protection against disclosure of proprietary information or techniques

Protection against misrepresentation of findings

Ethical issues involving protection of the research profession

Use of Accepted Research Procedures: Marketing researcher should follow sound research procedures or clearly indicate any departure

Certification: In 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.


Marketing Research, Measurement and Method, Sixth Edition, Donald S Tull and Del I Hawkins, Prentice Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi.

Marketing Research, Seventh Edition, Aakar, Kumar and Day, Wiley India Pvt Ltd

Marketing Research, Fourth Edition, G C Beri, McGraw Hill Companies

Marketing Research – text and cases, third edition, Rajendra Nargundkar, McGraw Hill Companies