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Definition of Market and Social Research


Market and social research means the systematic investigation of the behaviour, needs, attitudes, opinions, motivations or other characteristics of a whole population or a particular part of a population, in order to provide objective, accurate and timely information to clients (government, commercial and not-for-profit organisations) about issues relevant to their activities, to support their decision-making processes.


The process of market and social research includes specifying the information required to achieve the research needs of the client, designing the method for collecting information, managing and implementing the data collection process, analysing the results, and communicating the findings and their implications to clients. Methods of collecting information in market and social research include postal or mail surveys, e-mail surveys, internet surveys, telephone surveys, door-to-door surveys, central location (e.g. shopping centre) surveys, observational techniques, desk research, and the recruitment and conduct of group discussions, in depth interviews and series of interviews with panels. Market and social researchers may also use publicly or commercially available data, such as published statistics or sales data, to provide advice to their clients.

Market and social research differs from other forms of information gathering in that the information is not used, disclosed nor transferred either to support measures or decisions with respect to the particular individual, or in a manner that results in any serious consequence (including substantial damage or distress) for the particular individual.

Any information gathering activity in which the names and contact details of the people contacted are to be used for sales, promotional or fundraising activities or other non-research purposes (e.g. debt collection, credit rating) directed at the particular individual can under no circumstances be regarded as market and social research. In addition, any activity that attempts to impart information to individuals rather than collect information from individuals (e.g. push polling) can under no circumstances be regarded as market and social research.