Editor’s note: Mario X. Carrasco is managing partner at ThinkNow Research, Burbank, Calif. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Is market research ‘cool’?”
What does the future hold for careers in the market research industry? The ambiguity leads some to conclude that we’re experiencing an existential crisis of sorts; that our industry is struggling to exist in its current state but is as equally uncertain about how to change in the future.
It’s fair to say that the industry, as a whole, is doing a little soul searching. One of the revelations revealed thus far is its need to attract fresh, young talent. Support for this sentiment has been growing, sparking new pseudo-market research positions such as data scientists, strategic planners and the like.
But such changes haven’t been welcomed in all corners of the room. In fact, much of the content written on this topic has focused on discrediting those positions. The opposition insists that experience in a “true market research position” can never be replaced.
While both are potentially valid points, I think we have been approaching the question of “cool” from the wrong perspective. And for our industry to continue to attract top talent with new ideas and a healthy respect for the fundamentals, we have to scream from the rooftops just how cool what we do really is.
Now, let’s get into the top three reasons why market research is cool:
- Life experience
Market research rewards those with rich life experiences. One day you may be writing a questionnaire for macaroni and cheese and the next day you may be analyzing data from a travel related study. Market research is a career that touches almost every industry and individuals that have experienced a wide variety of foods, culture, products, situations, etc. are better equipped to make sense of the data and deliver real insight to their clients. This attribute is looked favorably on by Millennials and Gen Z alike as they highly value life experiences that enrich their lives over material possessions.
Market researchers in the U.S. and abroad are always asked to look into the habits and preferences of diverse audiences across the globe. Having a team that reflects that diversity is critical to understanding consumers. Conversely, having a team that can think critically about consumers that are different than them is equally important. Real insights are a team effort and the more diverse a team, the richer the story that built from that data. For Millennials, diversity is an important topic and having a workplace that embraces that is another plus for the market research industry.
- Thinking outside the box
This is perhaps one of the most important factors for success in market research. Making sense of data and more importantly crafting a story that makes it actionable requires thinking outside of the box. Anomalies, seemingly unrelated data points and raw numbers can be daunting for individuals that have trouble seeing beyond what’s in front of them. Thankfully for the market research industry, recent college grads are primed for thinking outside of the box. It is our job to show them that we appreciate and value that skill set.
The market research industry shouldn’t be worried about making market research “cool” because it is inherently cool. As professionals in the industry, we should be touting the unique skills required to do the job and highlight how these skills are compatible with the new Millennial and Gen Z mind-set. As data and insights become increasingly important for brands and companies, it will be important for us as an industry to position ourselves as a go-to career for those looking to expand their mind and make sense of the endless amount of information that exists online and through custom market research.