I don’t know if it’s the same across every language, but in English there’s a phenomenon known as “semantic satiation”—it’s what happens when repetition of a word or phrase causes it to temporarily lose all meaning. Say “bubblegum” one too many times, and the speech registers as meaningless sounds.


Sometimes I wonder if that’s what happens when we talk about data quality. The bane of every online methodology, our industry has been struggling to get ahead of fraud since the day we put surveys on the web. That means the word “quality” has been on our tongues for more than two decades. And recently, more often than not.


The more advanced online sampling becomes, so too become the fraudsters. And with that comes a sharp decline in the confidence consumers and brands have in the data market researchers provide. So we talk about quality. A lot.


We muse: What does quality mean? What doesn’t quality mean? How can we achieve quality? Does quality even matter? And the best one of them all: Without a universal definition of quality, how can clients and brands trust the data they receive?


And there it is: trust. The nature of the service we provide implies that we deliver research in ways that align to the values and ethics defined by industry organizations, such as ESOMAR and Insights Association (US), the Market Research Society (UK) and the Canadian Research Insights Council (CAN). Important, yes. But adherence to those codes of conduct is self-regulated.


On the contrary, ISO 20252:2019—the market research and insights standard defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—is a third-party validation of best practices. Companies that comply to ISO 20252 have undergone a rigorous audit of how they do what they do. By exposing their processes for operations, security and sampling, they accurately identify areas of improvement and often uncover competitive differentiators that help their organizations win more work.


It’s easy to understand why researchers and brands that partner with companies certified to ISO 20252 trust their data more. They know that it was collected, stored and shared in ways proven to mitigate fraud and the financial waste that accompanies it. ISO 20252 doesn’t define quality, but it does infuse the highest efficiencies into market research operations, from project reproducibility, training and document management to contractor oversight, security and more. A higher quality product is what follows.


Achieving certification isn’t a burden; it’s a gift. And it’s easier and less expensive than many think. I highly encourage any company in the MRX space to learn more about ISO 20252. There’s a great webinar about third-party validation at cirq.org/qualityforall. Or reach out directly to Juliana Wood, managing director of the Certification Institute for Research Quality at juliana.wood@cirq.org or 202-370-6318. She can help ascertain if ISO is right for you.


Because when it comes to our data, trust is a word we can never say enough.


Adam Weinstein


Full Circle Research