CIRQ Assists Argentinian Research Companies With ISO Certification
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CASRO Institute for Research Quality (CIRQ)
Assists Argentinian Research Companies With ISO Certification

The national market research association in Argentina (CEIM - Camara de Empresas de Investigación Social y de Mercado) made news in 2012 when it announced that it would require all member companies to be certified to the ISO 20252 research standard within three years.

To assist with this bold and wide-reaching initiative, CEIM selected the CASRO Institute for Research Quality (CIRQ) to provide auditing and certification services. Earlier this year CASRO hosted training for the first wave of Argentinian research companies seeking certification. Representatives from eight companies attended the training crafted specifically for this region, which provided an overview of the scope of ISO certification, as well as company-specific guidance on completing quality manuals and preparing for an ISO audit. These companies are striving to achieve the certification credential by the end of this year. In August, TNS Argentina was the first company in the region to be awarded ISO certification by CIRQ.

To understand more about the Argentinian research market and this quality initiative, we sat down with Carlos E. Ferro Rocca, Gerente General (General Manager) of CEIM.

Carlos E. Ferro Rocca, Gerente General (General Manager) of CEIM.

Q. How many companies are members of CEIM?

A. We have 25 members and are growing. Currently our membership accounts for approximately 80% of total market revenue in Argentina, which we estimate totals between $150M to $200M USD.

Q. What is the size range of your member companies - in terms of employees and revenue?

A. Our membership is comprised of big multinationals with 200 or more employees and 8-figure revenues, to prestigious local institutes run by small groups of professionals.

Q. What is your assessment of the current strength of the research industry in your country?

A. As in the rest of the globe, our industry development is strongly related to the growth of consumer markets, in general. At the same time the Argentinean market has been one of the first ones in the region to develop a MR industry, more than 50 years ago. In this regard our market is more mature than in comparable emerging markets where the activity is "younger" and underdeveloped. This said, we expect local market growth rates on the moderate to low range.

Q. What are some of the most common types of research conducted in Argentina?

CIRQ Managing Director Jennifer Ward addresses attendees at week-long training session in Buenos Aires.

A. Our market is a very sophisticated one where all equal or quantitative approaches are used. Furthermore, locally based companies are often hired to direct and coordinate regional and global studies, due to the outstanding expertise of native professionals.

Q. How did the association decide to mandate ISO standards for all members?

A. I may say that this was due to both the quest for differentiation within an industry that has, in general, very low entry barriers and the decision to be one step ahead of market requirements.

Q. Were all members on board with the decision?

A. Fortunately the issue was not controversial. While some members embraced the initiative almost immediately, others decided to do so later, during next year. But we have not had any opposition.

Q. How is CEIM contributing to the effort?

A. While each company is responsible for funding and fostering the certification process on its own, CEIM has supported the development of the initiative by organizing the process and selecting the auditing and certification organization (CIRQ) and hosting the CASRO/ISO training program earlier this year to help companies prepare for the certification.

Q. Are Argentinean companies requesting certification or some measure of quality?

A. Yes, in many cases they are and we expect that after they become accustomed to working with certified companies in the MR market, they will do so more frequently.

CIRQ has hired and trained auditor
Beltrán Fernández Górgolas to answer the needs of the Argentine market.

Q. When will companies need to be certified?

A. We haven´t set a specific deadline yet, but likely in about three years.

Q. After the deadline, what would the approach be toward new members? Would they have to be already certified?

A. We will certainly be defining it as a prerequisite for new memberships at some point, before or after all existing members are certified, as a way of developing the "quality culture” in the market.

Q. How do you think the certification will make membership in CEIM stronger?

I think it will provide extra assurance to the quality standards the companies are already providing to their clients. Regarding new memberships and the rest of the competition, it represents a step further in the message that the chamber wants to give to the market, stressing on the key importance of following quality standards in the industry.

Carlos E. Ferro Rocca has managed CEIM since July, 2012. He has worked both on the client and agency side on a local and global basis; sourced in CPG marketing and new product development environments. He has had direct responsibility for generating and operating products, brands and businesses from initial and research & prospecting stages through communication, Carlos has worked at The Nielsen Company and Ipsos.

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