Voxpopme 6: How does market research maintain trust when fake news is perceived to be rife?


Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

Episode 6: How does market research maintain trust and authority in modern times where fake news and misinformation are perceived to be rife?

There are a few things we can do.

First, despite how expertise is being discredited more and more these days, let’s be more open and transparent about our credentials. More than simply degrees and experience, let’s talk about our membership in recognized industry associations such as Insights Association, MRIA, MRS, AMSRS, and Esomar, as well as ISO certifications. Let’s do more than simply mention we’re members, and instead start our conversations with that fact. Let’s describe what it means to be a member in good standing in terms of the code of standards and ethics we abide by. Let’s put those logos on the first page of our reports, and even include with them some of the ethics and standards statements that are most relevant to the specific project. Let’s use these as reminders for our clients that we always act in their best interest, and in the best interest of the research project, even if the results don’t work out the way we had hoped.

Second, let’s be more transparent with clients. Let’s tell clients about all of the strengths and weaknesses of our research processes, about the things that changed unexpectedly along the way, even if it means disappointing them. When we can’t achieve the response rate, sample size, or cost per complete that they require, let’s tell them right from the beginning and be clear about why it can’t be done. When the results we generate are completely unexpected and don’t line up with our hypotheses or norms, let’s be open and honest about what might have happened and whether there might be a problem. Let’s worry less about not winning a job, and more about demonstrating our commitment to the integrity of results. The secondary bonus of this transparency is that we can educate less experienced buyers on how research can be positively and negatively impacted by a variety of known and unknown variables so that they will be more informed buyers in the future.

Third, let’s be better public advocates. When we see our research in the media, let’s ensure the results, conclusions, and recommendations are clearly properly represented. And when they aren’t, let’s get in touch with the media to help them understand what the issue is, including telling them why margin of error or making a certain generalization isn’t appropriate. And if they refuse to correct the misinterpretation, let’s make a public statement to right the wrong, perhaps with a note on your website sharing details about how the information should be properly interpreted. And along the way, if we learn that certain media channels regularly misinterpret results, let’s reconsider working with those channels and even the clients that work with those channels. Every one of us has a part to play in helping to ensure our research results are properly portrayed.

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