Market Research

ESOMAR – Who They Are and Why You Should Care

Written by SurveyPolice

You’ve probably seen the ESOMAR logo on some of the online survey panel websites that you are a member of, but do you know who ESOMAR is and why they are important?

Who is ESOMAR?

ESOMAR is the leading global organisation for the market research industry. Market research companies become a member of ESOMAR to show their commitment to excellence and ethics in market research.

ESOMAR is made up of almost 5,000 individual, and over 200 corporate members from over 130 countries. All ESOMAR members agree to abide by the ICC/ESOMAR Code, which was developed jointly with the International Chamber of Commerce, sets out global guidelines for self-regulation for researchers. ESOMAR, through its global promotion of the Code, has become an internationally recognised leader for quality and ethical standards.

ESOMAR actively encourages continuing education in market research for their members and therefore offers many professional workshops, seminars, meetings as well as online educational tools. The principles of the ICC/ESOMAR code provide a core foundation for all ESOMAR professional development.

Why ESOMAR Membership is Important

Members of ESOMAR must abide by the 8 ICC/ESOMAR Code principles:

  1. Market researchers shall conform to all relevant national and international laws.
  1. Market researchers shall behave ethically and shall not do anything which might damage the reputation of market research.
  1. Market researchers shall take special care when carrying out research among children and young people.
  1. * Respondents’ cooperation is voluntary and must be based on adequate, and not misleading, information about the general purpose and nature of the project when their agreement to participate is being obtained and all such statements shall be honored.
  1. * The rights of respondents as private individuals shall be respected by market researchers and they shall not be harmed or adversely affected as the direct result of cooperating in a market research project.
  1. * Market researchers shall never allow personal data they collect in a market research project to be used for any purpose other than market research.
  1. Market researchers shall ensure that projects and activities are designed, carried out, reported and documented accurately, transparently and objectively.
  1. Market researchers shall conform to the accepted principles of fair competition.

*of particular note to survey takers (aka respondents).

As displayed on: Reprinted with permission.


As noted above, points 4, 5, and 6 should be of particular interest to survey takers. Not only does ESOMAR make market research companies accountable if they have mislead respondents, but also if they have mishandled a respondent’s data in any way. Market research is a serious business where participant’s data should always be handled carefully and protected. If the survey panel you’re a member of has violated one of the rules above and they are a member of ESOMAR, you should file a complaint.

Tip! Note that survey panels are run by market research companies and are often named differently. The market research company itself would be a member of ESOMAR, not the survey panel, as the panel itself is simply a service offered by market research company.

Filing a Complaint with ESOMAR

If you believe that a market research company has breached ESOMAR’s standards, you can file a complaint with ESOMAR directly. Note that the market research company must be a member of ESOMAR in order to file a complaint – when in doubt you can always contact: [email protected].

You may file your complaint here:

Insights Association – Serving the USA

Insights Association is the largest marketing research association serving the United States. They are very much dedicated to advancing professional growth in the marketing research profession. Through educational support and advocacy before government officials, Insights Association also plays an active role in promoting an ethical culture within the space of marketing research. Like ESOMAR, Insights Association’s logo can also be seen on the bottom of many survey company’s websites.

Insights Association’s “Respondent Bill of Rights”

Similar to ESOMAR’s Code Principles, Insights Association has a “Respondent Bill of Rights” which can be found here: If a survey company has violated one of these rules and is a member of Insights Association, you may file a complaint using this form: Note that the form must be mailed or faxed.

Organizations Similar to ESOMAR and Insights Association

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