Market Research is a relationship business, and trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. While industry associations offer various quality standards and codes of ethics to cover corporate behavior and practices, one important and growing trend --- the offshoring of data collection and analytics --- has not been adequately addressed by either governments or industry trade associations.
Clients are concerned about their loss of control over the market research process, specifically the difficulty in obtaining accurate and honest information. These concerns are directly related to the information needed by buyers to make informed decisions and trade offs between cost and quality as well as the protection of intellectual property and data security.
The Foundation for Transparency in Offshoring (FTO) defines offshoring as the movement of a business process done at a company in one country to the same or another company in a different country, usually due to a lower cost of operations in the new location.
Whether or not a market research company chooses to offshore all or part of its service offering to lower cost countries, FTO maintains that suppliers have an obligation of transparency to their clients. In some cases there are also legal obligations, such as those required by EU-Safe Harbour mandates.
Market research suppliers who have self certified, disclosing the extent of their offshoring activities, if any, display this icon on their website.