Written By DJS Research Ltd a leading UK market research company
It is important for a firm to know the Data protection requirements that relate to market research. Data Protection legislation is concerned with the processing of personal data and applies to anyone involved in the collection, processing and use of market research data.
In the case of market research firms need to ensure that the reason for the research is clearly spelt out to respondents at the beginning of the interview, that the information collected during the interview will only be used for confidential research purposes, and, that if a further interview is likely to be necessary the permission for this must be gained during the initial interview.
There are eight core principles of the Data Protection Act and it is recommended to become familiar with these.
The Act also provides for various exemptions in respect of the processing of personal data for research purposes, including statistical or historical purposes:
-Personal data collected for research can be re-processed;
-As de-personalised data is exempt from the Act, survey data which has been anonymised can be kept indefinitely with no restrictions.
The processing of the data must be exclusively for research purposes and the following conditions need to be met:
-The data is not processed to support measures or decisions with respect to the particular individuals; and
-The data is not processed in such a way that substantial damage or substantial distress is, or is likely to be, caused to any data subject.
There is also differentiation between “classic” research projects and those where the results are to be used for other purposes, in particular at a personal level. These issues cover:
-Providing feedback where personal data, which is drawn when sampling from a customer database, is shown at the interview stage to be inaccurate or out-of-date;
-Enabling individual complaints or dissatisfactions about customer service raised by respondents during an interview to be fed back at the respondent’s request;
-Providing information back to clients that can be used to update data items other than personal details.
It is also important to be familiar with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct and the Guidelines for Business to Business Research – these can be found on http://www.mrs.org.uk/