Did you know not all market research is created equal?
Of course you did. But did you know that not all market research ROLES are created equal?
I’ve been considering this lately as I’ve been evaluating my career, what I’ve done, what I want to do, what drives my passion. Like so many others in market research, I happened upon this career trajectory by chance. I was in a role where I needed to find my own projects to work on, and, naïve and resourceful person that I can be, I decided that even though my job title said I “only” did a certain thing, there didn’t seem to be enough work to go around for just that skill, so I drafted up an email showcasing my breadth of skills and sent it to the executive assistant to the top person in the organization where I worked, asking her to send it out to the entire organization.
Thankfully, she was a fantastic assistant, and sent a note to my direct manager basically saying, “Are you aware of what your direct report is doing? Are you okay with me sending this out to the entire organization?” My manager called me into her office and suggested that my tactic wasn’t perhaps the best idea, and offered to help me find more project work, especially if I was willing to branch out a bit. I started doing some website work, and then came this opportunity to help program surveys.
Add in a masters-level marketing class being taught my a market research company owner, and my natural tendency to see opportunities for improving things, and my career in market research began….with learning there was a lot more to market research than just programming surveys.
Over time, as the market research function itself has expanded, so, too, has my understanding of the many areas where an individual could work in this field. A few that come to mind:
- Consumer research (or B2C)
- Commercial research (or B2B)
- Analytics – numbers
- Text analytics
- Video/emotion analytics
- Data science
- Survey software development
- Sales to companies to let someone else do their research for them
- Research operations
- Furthering the research trade
- Teaching new skills to existing researchers
- Teaching basic skills to new researchers
- Coordinating events to bring researchers together to learn from each other
Not all market research is writing surveys, moderating focus groups, or writing reports. Sometimes, it’s knowing the breadth of tools and being able to talk to a business owner well enough to get to their actual business question so you can suggest the best tool for the research. Sometimes, it’s knowing how to translate the request for “a quick data pull” into the right combination of queries to actually pull the correct data. Sometimes, it’s looking five years into the future and drafting plans for the skills researchers will need to stay relevant and valuable.
I think that’s one of the reasons I find this field so intriguing. The possibilities can seem endless at times. You can pivot from running a tracker to doing ad-hoc studies to focusing entirely on qualitative research. You can focus entirely on one category of research, like customer satisfaction, and find that, even then, you can decide to focus on home consumers versus commercial consumers. You can run quantitative studies for years, and then move into in-depth interviews, focus groups, and online community moderation.
This is what drives my passion for this field: the possibilities and the opportunities to always be growing. This is why I geek out about market research — there’s so much to geek out ABOUT!
What do YOU get excited about in market research?