January 31, 2006


Note to students who might be looking at this site: This is a request to professional marketing researchers and marketing managers with regard to a study I'm conducting. These are NOT recommended behaviors.

Below are 6 scenarios that have been used in past studies of marketing research ethics. We intend to replicate the study soon.

If you think the wording or phrasing of the scenarios need to be changed in any way before we use them in our study, please comment (click on the link "Comments" provided at the end of this entry). If you would rather send me an email directly about changes that you think need to be made you can use this email:


Thanks! Steve Castleberry


1. Use of ultraviolet ink

A project director went to the Marketing Research Director’s office and requested permission to use an ultraviolet ink to precode a questionnaire for a mail survey. The project director pointed out that although the cover letter promised confidentiality, respondent identification was needed to permit adequate cross tabulations of the data. The Marketing Research Director gave approval.

2. Hidden tape recorders

In a study intended to probe deeply into the buying motives of a group of wholesale customers, the Marketing Research Director authorized the use of the department’s special attache cases equipped with hidden tape recorders to record the interviews.

3. One-way mirrors

One of the products of X Company is brassieres. Recently, the company has been having difficulty making decisions on a new product line. Information was critically needed regarding how women put on their brassieres. The Marketing Research Director therefore designed a study in which two local stores agreed to put one-way mirrors in the foundations of their dressing rooms. Observers behind these mirrors successfully gathered the necessary information.

4. Fake research company

In another study concerning consumers’ magazine reading habits, the Marketing Research Director decided to conduct a sample of consumers using the fictitious company name, Media Research Institute. This successfully camouflaged the identify of X Company as the sponsor of the study.

5. Distortions by marketing vice-president

In the trial run of a major presentation to the Board of Directors, the marketing vice president deliberately distorted some recent research findings. After some thought, the Marketing Research Director decided to ignore the matter since the vice president obviously knew what he was doing.

6. Advertising and product misuse

A recent study showed that several customers of X Company were misusing Product B. Although this posed no danger, customers were wasting their money by using too much of the product at a time. But yesterday, the Marketing Research Director saw final comps/sketches on Product B’s new ad campaign which not only ignored the problem of misuse, but actually seemed to encourage it. The Marketing Research Director quietly referred the advertising manager to the research results, well known to all of the people involved with product B’s advertising, but did nothing beyond that.

Posted by scastleb at 10:25 AM

November 5, 2008

SMA Conference: Blending Theory and Practice

Again, here's the weblink to the PowerPoint presentation:


I'd love to know what you think about all of this. Feel free to drop a question or make a comment. We learn by sharing!

Posted by scastleb at 8:43 PM