When I have the chance to chat one-on-one with market research colleagues I consistently hear that we really really love our work, even when it’s crazy, 19 reports are due, and the client just doesn't grasp the insights yet.
If you check the #mrx Twitter feed during market research conference season, you'll see an excited buzz about what everyone's learning and how they can apply that back at home base...it’s clear that we’re an industry that loves what we do.
So how is it that so many of us “fell into research?” Why is it that folks outside of research still turn up their nose and say “Market research? Those are the people calling me during dinnertime, right?” Yet, when I explain the various aspects of research and provide examples of what researchers do, people really perk up!
I work a lot with college students (I'm a alumnae recruiter as well as a market research mentor to college students). I get the same initial reaction from students, but widening eyes when I talk about the different methodologies of research market, how research influences products, advertising, politics, and what the next wave of research might be (gamification? neuromarketing?).
Every single one of them says "That's not what I thought at all!" If anything, they have an inkling about market research, but no solid examples about what possible jobs are out there, what a career in market research entails, and how fun that can be. Once we've had that initial conversation, they get really excited and want to jump into jobs and internships with both feet. And thanks to some fabulous research companies (thank you Vision Critical and 360 Market Reach!) several of the students that I mentor are starting their careers in research.
Now is this the case for all students - a vague idea of market research at best? No, definitely not, there are some amazing candidates coming out of market research-specific programs at fabulous intitutions such as the University of Georgia. But I get the sense that for the majority of folks, research is definitely under the radar.
Dana Stanley wrote a great blog post about this last year and I've been thinking about it ever since. Dana's right, we’re not doing a great job of marketing ourselves, and our industry. Is it because we're so inherently curious about how others think/purchase/shop/etc., we neglect to shine the spotlight on ourselves to promote the industry?
So here is my call to action for you, let's be better marketers of market research for the next generation. Talk to your alma mater and offer to be a mentor to students interested in market research.
So, tell me your thoughts! Am I off base with this, or on the mark?
Finally, one of the goals of this blog is doing just that, promoting the market research industry by showcasing some of the fascinating aspects of it and people involved in it. To that end, I'll be starting a "day/week in the life of a market researcher" series of posts. If you're interested in taking part, let me know in the comments below!
Further reading on this topic: