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What advice would you give to somebody entering the market research profession?

One of the questions I get asked quite often is about the advice I would give to people entering the market research profession. People are aware of the changes being wrought by DIY, big data, the decline of surveys, in the moment research, etc, and wonder how should new entrants best prepare for an uncertain world. Having had plenty of time to think about it, I would suggest thinking about skills and choices in three groups. Essentials Specialisms Interests/passions However, before looking at these three, I will start by answering a bigger question, ‘would you recommend joining the market research profession?’ My answer is a definite yes! There will be an interesting, vibrant, and profitable research industry for at least ten years, and, frankly, that is about as far into the future as most young people should be looking. The skills learned in market research can be readily applied elsewhere, the money is not bad, the people are mostly great, and the work can be fun (but stay away from doing the repetitive bits of trackers). Essentials There are some things that everybody looking to be successful in market research should master and I think these are: Understanding the role […]

The Curve – a book you need to read

I have become a fan of The Curve. The Curve is a book by Nicholas Lovell, but it is also a business idea, a presentation, a website, and an opportunity to understand how to make money in a world where most things are free. Lovell has taken the ideas put forward in Chris Anderson’s book Free and shows how they can be leveraged as a business model. This book and its ideas are important for anybody involved in business planning, marketing and research. In essence, Lovell makes the point that in many business categories (especially those that are digital) you need to master two elements: Allow people to pay more money if they are fans Give people something useful/fun/interesting for free to grow the user base, which in turn grows the number of people willing to pay. To illustrate his point Lovell quotes a large number of examples in his book, one of which is the musician Trent Reznor and the way he launched Ghosts I-IV – a collection of four 9 track albums. He made Ghosts I available for free, including uploading it to sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay (even though those sites would be offering ‘stolen’ […]

What is market research?

Market research (or marketing research if you prefer) is what you do when you want to understand customers in order to make better business decisions if there isn’t a faster/cheaper/better way. At first glance that might sound like a slightly amusing aphorism. But, when you consider it a little deeper, it highlights a number of the problems and opportunities that confront market research. Understand customers At its heart, market research is about understanding customers. This includes current customers, past customers, customers of other brands, and potential customers. It means finding out things like: what people want, what people might want, what people would pay for things, how people see the world, and many more customer related questions. It sometimes even means working with customers to create ideas, as well as to evaluate and shape them. Better business decisions Market research draws on academic and social research, but its purpose is to help businesses make better business decisions. An organisation might be a commercial enterprise, a government, or a not for profit organisation, but in each case market research is used to help it make better business decisions, even when the definition of business is contextual. When there isn’t a faster, […]

How do we define qualitative research in a new MR world?

This post looks at the definition of qualitative research and has been produced as part of a project I am doing with the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research team to update their Mobile Market Research course. Your thoughts and suggestions are invited! Indeed, the thoughts expressed here arise from a lively and informed discussion in the NewMR LinkedIn group. The growth in new research approaches and the emergence of new tools have raised questions about what the term qualitative means, and by extension what quantitative means. If we can collect hundreds of videos, thousands of pictures, or millions of quotes, does it challenge what we mean by qual and quant. Traditionally, qualitative research was relatively easy to differentiate from quantitative research. The Table below shows how qualitative and quantitative research were traditionally differentiated. However, this simple table is less helpful in today’s modern, mobile, social, passive data collecting world. Some tools are used by both qualitative and quantitative researchers, and the types of data collected have expanded and overlapped. Today, researchers can collect large amounts of text, images, and videos, and these large amounts can be collected from the same sorts of samples that are used for quantitative […]