When I was given the opportunity to guest blog for Research Talent Hub, it made me think about when I first entered the market research industry and what it looked like for a recent graduate. At the time, I was looking at my CV to try and understand how the skills I had learnt from university and placements could benefit the sector.
The term market research was used but only as a descriptor or a placeholder for other words such as insight, data analysis, big data, virtual reality, customer experience, qualitative and quantitative research.
And I think the less market research is actually mentioned, the more exciting the sector becomes for recent graduates as well as those who have been in the market research world for a number of years.
You only have to look at some of the leading market research agencies and organisations to see that the term ‘market research’ is being used far less. As a business, they are meeting the demand from the sector and their clients. Far fewer clients ask for market research to be conducted, they now have clear questions and objectives they wish to understand that fall into some of the following phrases:
- Customer experience
- Customer purchase funnel
- User experience
- Data analysis
- Understand the life of a consumer
And I haven’t listed every single phrase, or you would never read this blog post or the next one…
But it’s clear from my time in the sector that clients now require a return on investment from the research conducted for them. And one-way market research agencies are winning clients over, is by offering bespoke and cool solutions that include some of the key terms and phrases I have mentioned.
And for someone who hasn’t even spent five years in the industry, this is exciting!
Every day, new products and new tools are being created with the help of emerging technologies. Now, this is all good for the sector! But, whilst the term market research might be used less, this means the industry is becoming cluttered with new startups who only offer customer experience research or a niche offer (often referred to as ‘Strategic Insight’).
For long-standing agencies, this then becomes problematic because new start-ups can sometimes offer attractive proposals, whilst the former agencies’ costs are far higher. And whilst businesses are quickly trying to find new customers or expand their own accounts you have buzzing university students looking for their first break and introduction into the market research world.
What would I do if I was asked: Do you think market research is sexy enough?
I would say, market research isn’t sexy but the tools, constantly evolving technologies and cool methodologies underpinning MRX are sexy and it will only improve in years to come. And for recent graduates, this can be exciting if universities offer them a dynamic course. But…
Do universities actually offer research modules and courses that include some of the new and brand-new tools?
My recent experience of the above it is very mixed. And interestingly, there is a clear divide between what universities offer in the U.S.A and the United Kingdom.
From the courses I have seen in the UK, they often don’t equip graduates with many of the required skills and ideas to enter the market research world when the whistle goes.
Graduates don’t need to know everything when they gain their first job in market research, but they do need to have some contextual understanding of the different tools and methodologies. So, whilst the term ‘market research’ is being used less, it is an exciting time to be in the sector and something I am definitely looking to challenge and improve.
For those individuals who are job hunting via Research Talent Hub (www.researchtalenthub.co.uk), now, in a month, in 6 months or a year, I would predict the common market research jobs will be no more. And a new breadth of job roles will appear to suit a range of different skill sets.