If you count the census, the first extensive poll conducted in the US occurred in 1790. While market research as commonly used today can be traced back to the 1930’s with pioneering Dr. George Gallup, modern polling came into its own just after World War II, so the industry is relatively young. As the Internet becomes ever more ubiquitous and transparent, and social media becomes more widely accepted, survey and opinion research will need to adapt. Stay abreast of shifts in the industry once you decipher the alphabet of key market research organizations, outlined below.
Founded in 1947, the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) remains the pre-eminent choice of organizations for survey research and public opinion professionals in the US. It advocates for the industry, promoting greater public understanding of market research's role in developing a better-informed society. The organization is more esoteric in its approach to survey research, with members of academia and public policy strongly represented in its ranks.
Founded in 1975, the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) provides advocacy, representing the interests of around 300 businesses and research operations in the US and abroad. The organization calls itself "The "Voice and Values" of the survey research industry, with standards that protect public privacy, lobby on behalf of the industry and that call out disreputable companies who threaten the industry's reputation.
As the largest marketing association in North America, The American Marketing Association (AMA) publishes periodicals, hosts on-line libraries and produces annual seminars for market researchers, connecting researchers back into the marketing field.
Based in Glastonbury CT, the Marketing Research Association was formed in 1954 as an offshoot from the New York chapter of the AMA, a result of a Trade Problem Discussion Group. MRA provides professional development and networking opportunities for its roughly 3,000 members from all over the world and representing various aspects of the industry.
CMOR was established as The Council for Marketing & Opinion Research in 1992 by the AMA, the MRA and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). As an umbrella organization, it serves to advance market and opinion research by promoting public understanding and acceptance, and advocating on behalf of corporations involved in research.
For a continental flavor, check out the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR). Founded in 1948, and headquartered in Amsterdam, ESOMAR has over 5,000 members in 100 countries, both providers and users of opinion and marketing research.