Editor’s note: Nick Hague is a founder and director of B2B International, a London-based research firm.
Most people don’t set off on their career path with marketing research in mind but of those who fall into the market research industry, I am sure most would agree that it is not only a rewarding career choice but also a vibrant and continually evolving industry. In fact, I would go as far to say that being a market researcher is arguably one of the best jobs in the world. Where else could someone with a curious mind be paid to find out what is going on, explore motivations and actively seek the truth?
Market research is almost always a team effort and most projects involve a small battalion of people. Most market research jobs are either found to be within market research agencies or on the client side at manufacturers, retailers, service providers or government/non-profits who rely on research to make decisions within their organizations. In the past, those on the client-side often had market research departments but a lot of these have now been subsumed into wider marketing departments. Also job titles using the phrase “market research” are disappearing from many business cards and being replaced by titles like “market insights manager” or “consumer insights analyst.”
Organizational structures vary from company to company but client-side research departments are either like an internal research company acting and carrying out the research solely on behalf of their brand or sector department or like internal consultants who subcontract all of the work to external research suppliers.
When starting out on a particular career, it is sometimes difficult to comprehend the path that one could take. Therefore, using B2B International’s structure as an example of the type of positions held within a market research agency, here is a typical structure of what the key positions are:
Research director: The most senior position and takes overall responsibility for the design and delivery of all the market research projects.
Research manager: Has responsibility for design, implementation and management of research projects. Takes the principal responsibility for the project running smoothly and liaising with the operations director. Will typically be the main point of contact with the end client.
Research executive: Takes part in the development of projects and directs the operational side of a project. Works closely with the research analyst and research manager in developing the research design and data collection as well as preparing the final report.
Research analyst: Looks after data analysis and presentation development and plays a role in testing of questionnaire routing.
Operations director: Arguably one of the most important jobs. Oversees a number of departments including data preparation, sampling, data entry, tabulations, questionnaire scripting and the telephone unit. The operations director makes sure that projects are delivered on time and against cost constraints as well as quality assurances.
Fieldwork manager: Oversees the recruitment, training, management and evaluation of telephone and face-to-face interviewers. Will often have various members on his or her team that take responsibility for training, quality management and sample creation/management.
Statistician/data processing: Members of the team may focus on all or specialize in one or more of the following areas of the data processing department: statistical techniques, scripting of surveys, data processing/tabulation creation and market modelling.
The market research industry has changed dramatically in recent years through the continued move toward globalization and the digital revolution and therefore the opportunities for a career path are almost limitless. If you want to be part of something that will challenge you, inspire you and take you to places you hadn’t previously visited, then a career in market research is for you.