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Who's trusting market research?

14 Jun 24

Who's trusting market research?

Over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people across the globe who perceive the value of market research, both as consumers and citizens.

This is according to new findings from the Global Research Business Network’s (GRBN) Global Trust Survey 2024.

The research shows that the overall trust placed in market research organisations by the general public remains positive.

The net trust score* for the sector is +7, matching the level in 2022, when the survey was last undertaken. The net trust score is calculated as the difference between the percentage of participants who report trusting and the percentage of those who report not trusting organisations.

The GRBN’s Global Trust Survey reports on public trust in organisations worldwide, with participants in the UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Germany and Spain.

The survey, however, also highlights potential risks to the reputation of the market research sector, including artifical intelligence (AI).

People across the globe have concerns over AI technologies, and companies providing AI tools are seen as some of the least trusted organisations globally.

Just 17% of survey participants claim that they trust them, and 36% report that they do not.  This puts their net trust score at -19*, higher only than media companies (-22) and social media firms (-31).

Market research companies have embraced AI technology to deliver cost effective and efficient insights to clients. 

While the sector will continue to leverage AI tools to empower customer and citizen-centric decision-making, it must be transparent with research participants about how these technologies are being used.

If not, the survey indicates that trust in research sector could decline.  A global average of 47% of people see the use of AI as negatively impacting the level of trust they place in market research companies. This compares with 32% who say it has no effect, and the 10% who say it has a positive influence.

The negative impact of AI use on market research’s reputation is particularly pronounced in New Zealand, where it decreases trust for 63%, and Australia, where it is a detractor for 57%.

The responsible collection and use of data also provides a reputational risk to the sector, as the vast majority of the general public remains highly concerned about the misuse of personal information.

The level of trust with how different organisations are using personal information is on balance negative – and has declined since 2022.

The market research sector is no exception in this regard, according to the GRBN’s survey.  The level of faith placed in insights firms to use data responsibly has declined from a net trust index of -18 in 2022 to -23 in 2024.

Debrah Harding, GRBN chair and managing director of MRS, comments: “As researchers make increasing use of AI to streamline and enhance our work, we must be alive to the impacts this might have on the way we are perceived.  There is a real opportunity for us to reinforce research’s value to the public, and to do that we must prioritise ethical best practice when utilizing new technologies – and communicate how we’re doing this.”

Andrew Cannon, executive director at GRBN, says: “As well as clouds, this year’s Global Trust Survey also brings news of silver linings to the research sector.  The public’s confidence in the positive impact insights can make on all areas of life is clearly growing – and rightly so.”

The full GRBN Global Trust Survey report is available to download here:


*The net trust score is calculated as the difference between the percentage of participants who report trusting and the percentage of those who report not trusting organisations.

The results cited in this press release are based on the responses of 9,563 people aged 18+ living in Australia, Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the USA, who completed online surveys in February 2024. The responses reflect the 18+ year old population in each country in terms of age, sex and region.

About GRBN

Global Research Business Network connects 45 research associations and over 3500 research businesses on six continents.

More than US$25 billion in annual research revenues (turnover) are generated by these businesses.

GRBN’s mission is to promote and advance the business of research by developing and supporting strong autonomous national research associations.