Market research is now a global industry and the cross-border trade in this activity will be facilitated by ISO 20252 which standardizes the requirements for market research worldwide, encouraging consistency and transparency in the way surveys are carried out, and confidence in their results and in their providers.

ISO 20252:2006, Market, opinion and social research – Vocabulary and service requirements, applies the principles of ISO’s quality management standards (specifically ISO 9000:2000, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary) to market, opinion and social research and harmonizes at the international level the requirements of the various national standards and industry codes that already exist for the sector.

The intention was to develop an International Standards that sets out guidance and requirements relating to the way in which market research studies are planned, carried out, supervised and reported to clients commissioning such projects. Therefore, ISO 20252 covers all the stages of a research study from the initial contact between the client and service provider to the presentations of results to the client.

ISO 20252 is the work of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 225, Market, opinion and social research, which was set up in response to an initiative by the European Federation of Associations of Market Research Organizations (EFAMRO), which is participating as a liaison organization along with the World Association of Research Professionals (ESOMAR) and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR).

ISO/TC 225 Chair, Enrique Domingo de Blas, commented: “Since national standards have been developed in many countries over the last ten years, this has fostered awareness of the importance of quality in market research. Nevertheless, there are cultural, social and behavioural differences between countries concerning products and services.

“Consequently, an International Standard is necessary in order to regulate these differences and permit cross-border multi-country research studies to be carried out with the assurance that working procedures are homogeneous and comparable. In addition, an International Standard will enable clients to obtain globally compatible feedback and make better informed choices of service providers.”

ISO/TC 225 Secretary, Irene Rodríguez Gayo, summed up: “ISO 20252 will perform a vital role by helping the market research industry build a reputation for global compatibility, traceability and continual improvement. And undoubtedly, it can heighten awareness of the value of professional market research activities in helping organizations make well informed decisions.

ISO 20252 has attracted much interest from ISO members, with the following countries participating: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and USA. In addition, the following countries are observers: Austria, Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Romania, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.

ISO 20252, Market, opinion and social research – Vocabulary and service requirements, costs 126 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat.