Market, Social and Opinion Research in Europe

Market research, which includes social and opinion research, is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals or organisations using the statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social sciences to gain insight or support decision making.

Since the 1940s, market, social and opinion research has been robustly self-regulated by a family of codes of conduct and practice, supported by strong compliance and disciplinary frameworks. Amongst these, the ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research (last updated 2007) is used in 15 EU Member States and 42 associations in 35 countries internationally.
The research sector has also developed an international standard for market social and opinion research, ISO 20252.The role of this standard is to ensure robust and adequate process and quality design. The standard is based on long established national standards, reflecting traditional concerns with research integrity and data security.

The fundamental principles of research, shared by the ICC/ESOMAR Code and other codes used by efamro members, are that:

  • Research must be conducted with the voluntary participation of respondents, based on the principle of informed consent;
  • Respondents must not be harmed or disadvantaged as a result of participating in a research project; and
  • Personal data collected for research purposes must not be used for other purposes.

These principles mirror the legislative requirements introduced by the Data Protection Directive.
Research does not seek to change or influence opinions or behaviour. It does not contain commercial messages nor does it seek to promote the aims or ideals of those who conduct or commission it. While research is used by marketers to test their product or messages, it is not a promotional communication.