The Global Research Business Network’s 2020 Trust Survey fielded across 10 countries with the primary objective of understanding the general public’s level of trust in the marketing research industry. The study also set out to understand how the public perceives different types of organizations and agencies (as it relates to trust and data privacy protection efforts). While several countries and regions across the globe have implemented regulations intended to protect citizens’ data privacy, this study revealed that market research companies need to do more to gain trust from survey participants.

As we evaluate the level of trust across different organizations and professions, market research ranked 7 out of 15 with only 23% of participants indicating ‘trust’ for the industry. While our industry fares better than other segments such as search engines (19%), media (13%), and social media companies (13%); other sectors outperformed our vertical such as health authorities (47%), as well as banking and financial institutions (46%).

Base: 5,036 Survey Participants Q3: Here is a list of different organizations or companies that may collect and process your personal data. To what extent do you trust each of them to protect and appropriately use your personal data? Field dates: 27th April - 7th May 2020

While survey data paints an alarming picture on the state of trust in our industry, there are material actions we can employ to change this troubling paradigm. While we may feel overwhelmed, transparency can and should be regarded as an opportunity, not a burden.

There are meaningful changes MR companies can employ to win over consumers:

• Beyond the obligatory privacy policy, provide a concise and simple summary which distills complex legal jargon. Participants should be clear on how your business collects, stores, shares, and destroys personal data.

• As updates are made to your privacy policy, provide a summary of what has changed and provide participants with the ability to review historic versions.

• Be explicit – provide the purpose and need for this data and how it benefits not only your company, but the participant as well.

• Ensure that an active opt-in is presented during each instance of personal data collection. It is unfair to expect that a consent captured at panel registration provides companies free reign to collect additional personal information in perpetuity. Each business scenario is different and the drivers for personal data collection vary from project to project; advise participants every step of the way and re-confirm their consent.

• Provide a sufficient feedback loop for survey enquiries and find ways to share non-proprietary data with participants. Giving back to your survey participants has been shown to increase engagement rates and mitigate attrition. Strive to make the participant experience transformational, not transactional.

• Fully document your participant data flow and security mechanisms, as well as implement standard operating procedures designed to prevent the risk of a data breach. Mandate employee and 3rd-party compliance through on-going training and e-signature agreements.

• Socialize knowledge throughout the entire organization and develop processes to support continued education on this dynamic and complex topic. Establish a regular cadence to revisit privacy protocols, partner agreements, and ensure all internal stakeholders have a seat and voice at the table.

Get involved and start building trust now! Don’t be intimidated by consumer privacy. Find ways to engage with your organization and the wider industry. Share your commitment to data ethics with others and use your personal influence to help your colleagues gain a deeper understanding.

Innovate MR contributed participants from its proprietary panel, PointClub™, as well as facilitated the field management for the Global Research Business Network’s 2020 Trust Survey.