NEWS14 January 2010

MRS publishes revised code ahead of April enforcement date


UK— The Market Research Society’s (MRS) revised code of conduct is being issued this month, ahead of its enforcement in April. Changes in the code include a new rule barring the use of client goods or services as incentives in a research project.

The newly codified ban on client incentives is the most controversial addition to the code, though the MRS has previously explained that such a regulation has existed since January 2008 on the grounds that client incentives could be seen as “promoting the aims and ideals of the client” – thus engaging regulations that restrict direct marketing communications.

Concerns have been raised that the ban risks increasing the costs of research projects or having a negative effect on survey participation, but in an online debate on this site last year MRS standards board chairman Geoff Gosling (pictured) explained that “client incentives can still be used to encourage respondent participation, although such exercises cannot be conducted under the research banner and must follow the MRS Regulations for Using Research Techniques for Non-Research Purposes”.

The complete revised code, plus details of the year-long consultation process leading to the changes, is available online here. Other amendments relate to research processes including questioning, interview monitoring, data collection and security of data handling.