How can I minimise leakage of confidential information from surveys?
Market research studies often contain confidential information, particularly regarding new product ideas and designs. While it is almost impossible to ensure zero risk of leakage of confidential information, there are methods to minimise the risk.
Industry Screen Outs
A common method is to screen out respondents who personally or whose relatives or friends work in certain industries (such as media, market research, marketing, etc.). We recommend using the following question for such screen-outs:
Do you or any of your close family members work in any of the following industries? Please select all that apply
- Advertising (TERMINATE)
- Agriculture / Fishing
- Banking or financial services
- Building or construction
- Civil service
- Fashion / Apparel
- Human resources
- Information Technology/IT
- Journalism (TERMINATE)
- Legal / Law
- Manufacturing / distribution of food products
- Market research (TERMINATE)
- Marketing (TERMINATE)
- Media (TV, radio, newspapers, etc) (TERMINATE)
- Public relations (TERMINATE)
- Real estate
- Retailer of food products
- None of the above
Include an NDA
A non-disclosure agreement can also be a deterrent against leakage. A generic NDA (which may be not legally enforceable or advisable) before a survey could be as follows:
By my participation in the following survey, I hereby agree to keep all information about the survey, including the products and concepts being tested, completely confidential, and further agree not to disclose such information either orally nor in any written way, including postings in social networks, blogs, chat rooms, auction sites, etc. to any other party nor to attempt to copy, print, take pictures, or download any information from this survey, either before or after the survey is completed. As to members of my household, I agree that they are also under this same obligation of confidentiality. I also understand that this agreement is legally binding and any breach may be grounds for legal action against me.
Furthermore, I understand that my responses to the questions in this survey will be kept strictly confidential and only reported on aggregate level and I will not be asked to provide any personally identifiable information.
If you agree with all of the above information, please click the AGREE button in order to proceed with the survey.
- DISAGREE (TERMINATE)
If you want to include an NDA before a survey, you should talk to your legal team first.
Include an informal pledge
As an alternative to a legalistically-sounding NDA, you can include a simple promise or pledge:
I understand that in this survey I will see various texts, images, and/or videos that relate to certain new products that are not yet available on the market. I promise to not to discuss these materials with other people, and keep my knowledge of them secret. I also promise not to use these materials in making or promoting my own products or products for my company.
- OK, I promise that
- No, I do not promise that
The promise above is very likely not legally enforceable.