Canada's association for marketing research consultancies stops operations

31 August 2018 2 min. read
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Canada’s industry association for researchers and pollsters – The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) – has closed its doors suddenly due to a lack of funds. An interim working group has since been formed to start the process of creating a replacement representative body.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence (MRIA), a non-profit industry association that represents market researchers and pollsters, abruptly closed its doors on July 31, with services winding down this month. According to a memo sent to members, “The Board of Directors reached this decision after careful consideration and consultations. The organization’s current financial situation leaves no other possible alternative.”

The organization was founded out of the merger of three industry associations in 2004. According to the MRIA, a steady erosion of membership revenues forced the organization to suddenly close up shop.

The closure leaves the polling industry without a representative body for standards, best practices, ethics, advocacy, and dispute resolution. The MRIA provided a code of conduct for research, a Certified Marketing Research Professional designation, and Gold Seal certifications for agencies that underwent an audit every three years.Canada's association for marketing research consultancies stops operationsThe closure caught industry leaders off guard. Anastasia Arabia of Trend Research told CBC News, "I'm confident the board made the best decision that they could, but there was no outreach and I don't know why. This is a huge loss to the industry."

Corporate Research Associates president and CEO Don Mills said in a joint statement from industry leaders that “we find MRIA’s announcement that it is ceasing operations to be a very unfortunate occurrence....In spite of the difficulties faced by the association, the market research and intelligence industry itself remains vibrant and financially strong.”

A number of critics will not be lamenting the demise of the MRIA, which was viewed by some as a toothless organization that didn’t enforce standards. Independent pollster Janet Brown told CBC News that "If you were a pollster who didn't care about standards, you didn't join the MRIA. If you were a pollster who did care, you didn't join because the MRIA didn't enforce its standards."

Brown herself left the MRIA about 12 years ago, when the organization failed to sanction a member organization that published falsified data. “The industry need(s) a new organization that’s serious about standards and ethics,” Brown commented on Twitter.

Who will survey the surveyors?

In the meantime, an interim task force was formed earlier this month to fill the gap left by the demise of the MRIA. The group – named the MRIA Transition Taskforce – will represent researchers and agencies until a new industry association can be formed.

The group’s goals include: investigating and reporting on the state of the MRIA; creating a vision for a new organization; creating a strategic plan for the transition to a new organization; and, if necessary, facilitating the creation of a new organization or rebuilding the MRIA.