Taking surveys in China on behalf of foreign market research agencies has been a common practice. However, recent developments in China’s regulatory environment and data security landscape have made this once-familiar task increasingly challenging.
As reported by FT, multinationals in China are accelerating the push to decouple data from their international platforms in order to comply with the new Chinese regulations. On the other hand, for companies without an office within China, it now seems hopeless to conduct research among Chinese survey participants.
The raid on Capvision is just one in a series of recent actions, including crackdowns on U.S. firm Bain & Company and due diligence group Mintz. These developments have significantly complicated the ability of foreign companies to conduct even the most basic market research through Chinese partners and suppliers.
Here are some of the key issues faced by Chinese survey takers as they strive to respond to surveys from foreign market research companies.
- Stringent Data Regulations: China’s growing emphasis on data security and privacy has led to stringent regulations. Survey takers must now consider the legal implications of sharing personal information and opinions in surveys, making them more cautious about participating.
- Fear of Legal Consequences: Recent updates to China’s anti-espionage laws have introduced the possibility of criminal sanctions for sharing sensitive information. This legal uncertainty has left survey takers worried about potential repercussions, discouraging their active participation.
- Data Localization Demands: Foreign companies increasingly store data collected from China within the country’s borders. This means that survey takers’ responses may be subject to local data storage, raising concerns about how their data will be handled and secured.
- Data Security Concerns: Just as foreign companies are concerned about data security, so are Chinese survey takers. They worry about the security of their personal information and responses, especially when they are required to share sensitive data in surveys.
- Reduced Survey Opportunities: As foreign companies grapple with regulatory changes, some have opted to limit or even suspend their online survey sites in China. This has reduced the number of available survey opportunities for Chinese participants.
- Compliance Burden: Chinese survey takers find themselves navigating a complex landscape where compliance with evolving regulations is paramount. This can be challenging, particularly when they are unsure about the specific requirements and consequences.
- Ethical Dilemmas: Chinese survey takers are increasingly grappling with ethical dilemmas, such as whether to share certain information or opinions in surveys due to legal concerns. This may lead to less candid and valuable responses in surveys.
In conclusion, Chinese survey takers face a shifting landscape as they engage with surveys from foreign companies. The evolving regulatory environment, legal uncertainties, and data security concerns have made their participation in surveys more complex.
It’s essential for foreign companies to consider these challenges and maintain open communication with survey takers to ensure the continued success of market research efforts in China. Balancing compliance with data regulations and providing a safe and transparent survey environment will be crucial to overcoming these hurdles.