The first Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice was published by ESOMAR in 1948. This was followed by a number of codes produced by national bodies and by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
In 1976 ICC and ESOMAR agreed that it would be preferable to have a single international code instead of two differing ones and a joint ICC/ESOMAR Code was published the following year 1977. This was revised and updated in 1986 and 1994, making the current version the fourth edition of the ICC/ESOMAR Code, under a slightly altered title.
Effective communication between the providers and consumers of goods and services of all kinds is essential to any modern society. There are many methods of gathering information, and the channels available are multiplying with the development and use of internet-based technologies and other interactive media. One of the most important methods of gathering information is by using market research, which in this Code is taken to include social and opinion research. Market research depends for its success on public confidence – that it is carried out honestly, objectively and without unwelcome intrusion or disadvantage to its participants. The publishing of this Code is intended to foster public confidence and to demonstrate practitioners’ recognition of their ethical and professional responsibilities in carrying out market research.
The self-regulatory framework responsible for implementing this Code has been successfully in place for many years. The use of codes of this nature and their implementation have been referred to and accepted as best practice worldwide, as a recognised means of providing an additional layer of consumer protection.
The Code is designed primarily as a framework for self-regulation. With this in mind, ICC/ESOMAR recommend the worldwide use of the Code, which intends to fulfil the following objectives:
To set out the ethical rules which market researchers shall follow;
To enhance the public’s confidence in market research by emphasising the rights and safeguards to which they are entitled under this Code;
To emphasise the need for a special responsibility when seeking the opinions of children and young people;
To safeguard freedom for market researchers to seek, receive and impart information (as embodied in article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights);
To minimise the need for governmental and/or intergovernmental legislation or regulation.
To download the full version of the code of conduct and the supporting notes and guidelines, please see: https://www.esomar.org/knowledge-and-standards/codes-and-guidelines.php
A set of local guidelines have been developed, in addition the international Code of Conduct and Guidelines mentioned above, that also apply to SAMRA Members. These guidelines are published from time to time on the SAMRA website.
The SAMRA Complaints Procedure applies specifically to SAMRA members, whereas the complaints procedure in the international Code of Conduct applies to ESOMAR members.