Report on the ISO Standards and TC 225

Tom Smith, past WAPOR President, attended the International Standards Organization (ISO) meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland this past September as WAPOR representative to the ISO technical committee 225 on marketing, opinion, and social research. Below you will find his report on the new standards issued by the committee earlier this year.

“International Standard ISO 20252:2019, Market, opinion and social research, including insights and data analytics – Vocabulary and service requirements” was issued in February, 2019. It updates ISO 20252:2012. The revised standard sets out guidance and requirements relating to the way in which market research studies are planned, carried out, supervised, and reported to clients commissioning such projects. It will encourage consistency and transparency in the way surveys are carried out, and confidence in their results and in their providers.

The global research quality standard provides a framework to:

Ensure timely delivery of quality services
Improve operational management and control of research processes
Reduce errors and rework
Enhance user reputation and provide a competitive advantage

Don Ambrose, Chair of the ISO technical committee that updated the standard, explains: “ISO 20252 is a must-have for the market research industry. Users the world over – companies, governments, research institutes, consumer associations, universities, and marketing and advertising agencies – will benefit by having global compatibility, traceability and continual improvement. In addition, it will enable clients to obtain globally compatible, comparable and homogeneous feedback and make better-informed choices of service providers.”

ISO 20252:2019 covers all the stages of a research study: from the initial contact between the client and service provider, to presentations of results to the client. This third edition has been updated to reflect new or modified research practices and new content has been added, including the complete ISO 26362:2009, covering the management and use of access panels.

ISO 20252:2019 was developed by technical committee ISO/TC 225, Market, opinion and social research, whose secretariat is held by UNE, ISO’s member for Spain. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store (

In September, 2019, ISO/TC 225 met in Edinburgh, Scotland to discuss plans to disseminate information about ISO 20252:2019 and encourage adoption by survey-research providers around the world. Online and printed brochures will be developed to explain to both data collectors and their clients what the standards cover and the benefits that come from adopting the standards. This new material will be placed on the ISO 20252:2019 website and distributed to members of trade and professional associations in the field of survey research. In addition, presentations will be held at conferences and trade meetings with the first one scheduled for Germany in October. The ISO/TC 225 Communications committee will also explore the possibility of producing an online video about the standards similar to those developed by other ISO/TC committees. ISO/TC 225 will track adoption of ISO 20252:2019 and adapt its informational campaign in response to these developments. There is a particular interest in dissemination to countries and regions were knowledge about the standards are low and adoption consequentially rare.

Beyond the immediate goal of promoting the new standard, ISO/TC 225 also will be monitoring continuing change in the survey-research field to be sure that standards remain up-to-date and relevant.