Is it genuine research?

The Important Differences between Market Research and Selling... 

Unfortunately it is not always easy to tell the difference between genuine market research and research being conducted with the intention of trying to sell you something or gathering personal information to be onsold for sales purposes.

This is known in the industry as ‘SUGGING’ or ‘selling under the guise’ of conducting genuine research and is prohibited by the Research Association and the Marketing Association’s Codes of Practice. Companies that are not members of these organisations are not bound by those codes. However they may be in breach of the Commerce and Privacy Acts. 

In particular the Privacy Act states that any agency collecting information for any purpose must make people aware of the purpose for which the information is being collected and supply details of the agency where the information will be stored. 

While we are strongly opposed to any organisation conducting sales under the guise of research, not all offenders are aware that this is unethical behaviour. They are often small businesses that mistakenly see this as a legitimate means of gathering sales leads. When made aware that they are in likely breach of industry codes (whether or not they are members) they will typically stop or modify their behaviour.

How do I know if I’m being SUGGED?

If the caller clearly identifies themselves as representing a sales or marketing firm, then there is no deception.

However, if the following happens, it may be a sign that you are being ‘SUGGED’: 

The caller introduces themselves as conducting a survey. They ask you a few questions about your lifestyle, your ownership or use of certain products and services, and then start a “pre-sell” line of questioning, such as:

  • “Did you know that most people are under-insured, unprotected in the event of, unaware of the dangers of…?” “Do you know if you are fully covered…?” “Are you aware that….?”
  • These types of questions are where the caller is about to start telling you something about their company’s products and services, not asking questions.
  • “Could I have your address so that we can send you more information about… ‘our products’, ‘how you can ‘save yourself money on’, ‘protect yourself against’, ‘reduce your tax’ …?”

If the company is SUGGING then this is often a technique they use to generate sales leads by sending you product or service information. Please note that there are occasions when a genuine market research company may wish to send you some information prior to you completing an interview on the phone or even want to set up an appointment to come to interview you at home / office, however this information will be directly related to the survey you’ve agreed to complete and not sales related information.

NOTE: Genuine research does not require your credit card details under any circumstances. 

If you have concerns that the research may not be legitimate, you can ask the following questions:

1.     Are you calling me to conduct market research or will you try to sell me something?

2.     Can you provide me with the name of your company and contact details so I can verify that you are a legitimate research firm?

3.     Can you give me the phone number of your supervisor?

Any one of these questions will be handled confidently by legitimate researchers or ethical sales people. 

Once you have their contact details you can check if they are members of the Research Association New Zealand. While not all legitimate market research companies are Research Association members, if they are, you can be doubly confident that they are operating to a code of conduct that ensures they are not misleading you and that your privacy will be protected. 

If at any stage in the interview you are asked for personal details such as bank account numbers, PIN numbers or other details that you suspect are being sought for criminal purposes or if for any other reason you suspect criminal intent, terminate the call and contact the police immediately.


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