Photo copyright by Spiegel Online

Last week, Spiegel Online published a report on manipulation and fraudulent practices in market research. Discussing about Germany’s largest online news portal, the source is undoubtedly respected and highly reputable.

The article mentions that internal documents from various local market research companies leaked and proved that the world of statistics and representativeness is sometimes just a carefully constructed backdrop. The text also invokes some names of German market research agencies assumed to have manipulated surveys and faked the results.

Obviously, the first impact was to shatter clients and, generally speaking, individuals’ confidence in studies, particularly in market research agencies. On an already existing background of mistrust in surveys, the above-mentioned article just brought some confirmations to those arguing about the accuracy and quality of the data collected via market research studies.

On the other hand, though, the media coverage of Spiegel’s report should determine market research agencies to put more focus on the quality of the surveys conducted, so that they provide their clients the needed (re-)assurance of getting top quality results. Quality-oriented and reputable research should stay at the core of any market research agency ethical code of conduct.

By developing and investing more in control procedures and instruments for the studies deployed, market research agencies could set new quality standards in the industry and help the market research field overall.

To conclude, I think that it is market research specialists’ duty to take note of the raising awareness and importance of data accuracy and to take steps towards the consolidation of the field.

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