The Ethics of Marketing Research

Dale Fodness addresses some common ethical issues involving market research.

Situation 1: After you make a brilliant final presentation on a business-to-business market research study, your client thanks you and then asks for the list of companies that responded to the survey, along with their survey responses, which could indicate whether they were currently in the market for the client's services. What is your response?

In my 20 years as a marketing researcher, this is the most common ethical dilemma I have encountered and a classic example of conflicting interests leading to ethical problems.

When collecting data, I pledge that individual confidentiality will be maintained, personal information won't be used for other purposes, and responses will be combined with those of other respondents so that individuals can't be identified.