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Understanding consent in market research: why this shouldn't hold you back

When carrying out market research, one of the first and most important things you need to do is make sure you get consent from your participants. You will need to get consent for each stage of the research, so if you are conducting research involving videos where respondents will need to be filmed, or if there are photos involved, it might feel as if it adds an extra layer of complexity to gaining consent. But don’t worry, a good fieldwork agency will work with you to make sure that market research consent isn’t a barrier. 

No matter how complicated your research is and however many different components or stages there are, consent should be something that can easily be done. A good fieldwork agency with strong communication and understanding of the codes of conduct will make gaining consent an easy process. Read on to find out how to take the headache out of consent so that you don’t have to worry about restricting your research.

Follow the MRS Code of Conduct

When it comes to consent, the MRS Code of Conduct states that participants must give their informed consent at all times and that they should be provided with sufficient information to make their decision. This information includes:

  • The name of the organisation or individual responsible for data collection
  • The general subject of the data collection
  • The purpose of the data collection
  • Whether the data collection is to be recorded and/or observed
  • Who is likely to have access to live or recorded information
  • The likely length in minutes of the data collection
  • Any costs likely to be incurred by the participant
  • An assurance that the activity is being conducted in accordance with the MRS Code of Conduct

Also, remember that it must be made clear that they can withdraw consent at any time. 

As well as following the MRS Code of Conduct, there are other things you can do to make gaining market research consent easier…

Give your agency all the info they need

A good fieldwork agency/recruitment partner will always expect to be thoroughly briefed on your project at the beginning. They’ll want to know everything about the whole project and make sure they understand the objective. By communicating clear, defined goals with your agency, they’ll be able to share this with the participants where necessary to make sure they make an informed decision regarding consent. If both your agency and your participants understand what you are looking to achieve, you are likely to yield better results both in terms of response rates and overall results too. At the brief stage, you should also make sure your agency knows what is and isn’t shareable with candidates.

Make sure consent forms are ready

At the brief stage, your fieldwork agency will also need to organise the appropriate market research consent forms or NDAs. This is particularly important around new product launches as well as data and security issues and there will also most likely be separate consent sections depending on the nature of the project and for different stages of the research. For example, the participants have to give consent for the client to:

  • Watching through a one-way mirror
  • Listening to an audio recording at their offices
  • Watching a video recording at their offices 

And if there are any extra factors, such as family and/or pets being included, they will need to give consent for this too. They also need to give consent to be recontacted if there are any follow-up questions or phases - without this consent at the recruitment stage, we cannot go back to participants at a later stage. The consent forms should state the purpose of the company having access to the recordings, the job role of the people listening, watching or viewing the recordings, and confirmation that they respect the confidentiality of the data exchanged. Your fieldwork agency should write this into their initial screener and also include it in a confirmation email to make sure each respondent is completely aware of what is being asked of them and that they have given consent every step of the way. 

Speak to your participants

A good fieldwork agency should also validate the respondents over the phone and use this opportunity to confirm consent again. Getting to know respondents and chatting to them on the phone is a good chance to make sure they're the right people for the research whilst going over the screener again.

Explain everything in detail, including what is expected of them on the day, what they will need to do, where they will need to be, and whether they need to bring anything. We’d also recommend recapping the objective of the research, what the client is trying to achieve and why, so you can put their minds at rest and answer any remaining questions they might have. Your agency should know the rules and regulations regarding consent inside out and back to front so will be able to answer everything!

Make sure you strictly adhere to GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May 2018 to bolster the rights EU citizens have over their data and make companies more transparent in how they deal with it. This has an impact on market research consent; as data controllers, research agencies are entrusted with personal information and carry the ultimate legal responsibility for data. One of the six lawful bases for processing information is that the individual has given clear consent for their data to be processed for a specific reason.

Once your agency shares the respondents’ data with you, you need to make sure that you adhere to strict GDPR rules in order to store and treat it correctly. This means that, under the GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018, personal data should not be kept longer than necessary. From the type of info stored to how long it will be stored for, it’s best to be as transparent as possible at all stages to avoid miscommunication. For more information on GDPR in market research, check out this blog post.

When choosing a fieldwork agency, it’s really important to make sure that they adhere to GDPR at all times, particularly when gaining market research consent. At Angelfish, we are members of MRS and always take pride in our recruitment process.

Why not download our guide to choosing the right recruitment agency for you? Check it out here. 

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