By DR. Otto Hellwig, BILENDI

The 2022 version of the “Global Trust Survey” has been recognised in the German research community. The tenor was ambivalent. On the one hand, Germany ranks fourth internationally in terms of trust in market research. On the other hand, trust in us market researchers is rather average compared to other professional groups. For example, we market researchers only achieve tenth place worldwide in the ranking of professional groups surveyed for our handling of personal data, far behind bankers and politicians. Nevertheless, Germany is in 5th place in the national comparison.

However, it would be deceptive to believe that we in Germany should rest on our laurels. A recently published study by a public broadcaster on Germans’ trust in their institutions shows that Germans are continuing to lose their trust. The reasons for this are complex. One possible cause is the growing economic pessimism among the population. In times of increasing crises and uncertainty, people are losing trust in institutions such as the economy, politics and the media. Market research will also be affected by this.

So how should we market researchers take the initiative to remain trustworthy in the future and what have we already initiated in Germany in particular to strengthen trust in market research? Market research is not only dependent on the trust of the population. The trust of its clients and study participants is also important for its work and its success. The “Global Trust Survey” is an instrument for measuring the public’s trust in our actions. Other studies should complement this compass. Bilendi & respondi therefore regularly asks its own study participants about their experiences in the studies and their satisfaction as participants. This picture should also be supplemented by constant feedback from our clients.

Trust is gained by strengthening the foundations of market research and communicating this well. Scientific standards, data protection and the separation of research and non-research activities are the guard rails that should guide our journey. However, these cornerstones are not static, they evolve and must therefore be continuously reviewed and adjusted. In line with the definition, compliance with these foundations must be ensured.

In Germany, the market research associations have recently fundamentally revised their quality assurance standards in order to adapt them to a changed research landscape. Compliance with these standards is monitored by a strict system of self-regulation, headed by the German Market and Social Research Council. However, trust is only created when this constellation of standards and self-regulation is communicated to the population. In Germany, the associations have launched an initiative with this aim, which regularly communicates the aims and methods of market research through various channels. Bilendi & respondi not only supports this initiative financially. The best way to strengthen the trust of the people who take part in our studies is to focus on their research experience and try to optimise it. This is a challenge that requires all players within the industry to take action.

Trust is not a given and can be influenced by the industry. The “Global Trust Survey” is the right feedback and a good compass for this challenge. For this reason, it will continue to be supported by Bilendi & respondi.

DR. Otto Hellwig, BILENDI