Myth or fact:
Market researchers are number crunchers, stat stooges, and questionnaire boffins. Market researchers obsessively pore over data that any sane human being would view as tangled errata. Certainly the question lingers in the minds of many when the term ‘market research’ is heard. It is a question that has blunted the appeal of the job for many talented candidates.
Certainly market research, as taught in universities, has polarised opinions, with many institutions failing to recreate the spark that drives this profession.
What is market research all about?
The stigma of market research as a formulaic, methodical endeavour is not difficult to fathom. After all, when someone thinks of market research, they most likely visualise a bright, welcoming person at a makeshift podium in the local supermarket, casting an open palm over an array of cheese niblets on cocktail sticks or plastic cups of orange juice. Many think of market researchers as quasi ‘try before you buy’ vendors, as querulous clipboard-armed correspondents. But, does this perception reflect reality?
Market Research Jobs
While many market research jobs involve face-to-face customer interaction – being sent to Asda to quiz shoppers on their favourite type of burger, for example – there is a lot more to the industry than awkward chats in clogged aisles.
A huge part of market research is, in fact, interaction with large companies. Inspiring your clients based on the results of your findings will enable the market researcher to understand the processes of such organisations, whilst learning about their company culture, decision flow and hierarchy. Certainly the personal development potential is considerable.
A market researcher will also have demonstrable clout in the eyes of manufacturers, whose research and development ideas will hinge on the researcher’s feedback. And while the researcher may need to go on foot to tabulate the customer’s needs and wants, they will also do an extensive amount of research from the comfort of their desks.
Roles in market research – at least entry-level ones – generally necessitate the undertaking of industry-standard qualifications such as the MRS Advanced Certificate, to learn about research theory. While this certainly isn’t roller-coaster reading, it is an essential means of gaining grounding in the practice.
Then it’s on to charting, analysis, behaviour studies (ringing up respondents for more detailed feedback) and invariably meeting with clients whose products you are determining interest in.
Rarely do we see market researchers and think ‘big company’. Often outsiders don’t appreciate that market research is vital for businesses, and in fact underlies every business decision made about a product; who is it for, why do they want/need it and what packaging do they need to see to stimulate this effect?
Your Career in Market Research
If you are considering a career in the industry and are daunted by the prospect of analysing data, interacting with customers and determining the emotional connection between a brand and consumer, you need to ask yourself if the field is right for you.
The vast majority of successful market researchers point to their feelings of catharsis when a project is completed, and the rush of presenting their findings to a global brand.