In this week’s blog, I am going to talk about ethical practices within marketing research. I am going to take analyze an article called “avoiding unethical market research decisions” posted by Caitlin Stewart. The article states that all business have their own ethical obligations, and market researchers as well. Ethical guidelines you need to keep in mind when preparing to conduct research or start looking for secondary data. To help us understand business ethics, the author gives us an “ethics checklist”.
He has taken the following concepts from the article “Ethical Codes Are Not Enough” by Michael Hyman, Robert Skipper, and Richard Tansey, which outlines some of the most common causes of unethical decisions.
  1. Does my decision treat me, or my company, as an exception to the rule?
  2. Would my decision lose profits if customers were aware?
  3. Would I repel qualified job applicants by telling them about my decision?
  4. Does my decision meet other employee’s opinions?
    1. Is my decision partial or biased?
    2. Does it divide the goals of the company?
    3. Will I have to pull rank to make others follow it?
  5. Would I prefer avoiding the consequences of this decision?
  6. Did I avoid any of the questions by telling myself that I can get away with it?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, I suggest that you should change your decision.
The author also provides us with the four things he believes to be the biggest ethical concerns in Market Research.
          Conducting unnecessary research: The purpose of research is to answer a question or solve an issue for a company, so if you are aware that the research you are conducting is not going to be beneficial nor the study won’t be able to succeed, you should pull the plug.
          Performing the wrong research: Conducting a research about something that is not really a problem would count as unnecessary research, something that will waste time and money. Even if what you are doing is purchasing secondary data, you have to consider if it is what you really need.
          Ignoring ongoing studies: Marketing research is constantly evolving so you should look for the most recent data. If you know there is more recent data or current studies that could provide you with the information you need, you should not turn to old or outdated reports.
          Misusing research according to licensing agreements: One of the most common ethical dilemmas businesses face comes from misusing reports according to the requirements of their license. Sometimes, this occurs because the user does not fully understand the limitations of the different license types. But, other times, companies simply step beyond a license’s boundaries.

After reading this article, I can tel. That taking a step back and considering your actions is a great way to make sur you are making ethical decisiones.