Changes to the MRS Code of Conduct

RoadshowI recently attended the Market Research Society Code of Conduct Roadshow.  Unfortuntately there was no Bruno Brookes but in his place Barry Ryan, the MRS Standards & Policy manager, told the assembled throng all about changes to the Code of Conduct which will be coming into force in March 2010.  So, for your enjoyment, here’s a quick rundown of the main points:

  • Incentives – currently, if an organisation is running some audience research they might want to offer an incentive for taking part, such as free tickets or a meal at their restaurant.  This will no longer be allowed under the Code of Conduct, as it constitutes direct marketing.  The basic idea is that offering your own product or service as a prize is a form of promotion, which is not allowed in market research.  So, if you do want to offer something which is related to your organisation as an incentive, you should abide by the Direct Marketing Assosciation’s guidelines, which are much stricter, particularly around who you can and cannot contact.
  • Promotional messages: similar to the above point, you won’t be allowed to have any promotional messages in your market research.  For example, in some introductory text you might have the phrase “Theatre X, the UK’s leading new writing theatre…” – this would constitute promotion, and as such you would have to abide by the DMA Code of Conduct.
  • Age of interviewees: presently, the MRS Code of Conduct is a bit confusing when it comes to interviewing people under the age of 16.  So, to make it simpler, from March 2010 parental/in locl parentis constent will be required before interviewing under 16s.  This includes any form of research with under 16s, even those not conducted face-to-face (such as e-surveys).

As a member of the MRS, and any research we at Audiences London are involved in is required to uphold the Code of Conduct, so we’ll be going with the above guidance.  Even if your organisation is not a member, we’d recommend following their guidelines, as they outline best practice in the research sector pretty comprehensively.  And if you are a member, Barry’s available on the MRS Codeline to answer any tricky questions!

If you’d like any more info, have a look at at the MRS website.

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