It’s the time of year when recent college graduates enter the world of marketing research and begin to apply their research knowledge. Congratulations, and welcome to the fascinating world of Consumer Insights! For many grads, this may be an eye-opening journey as they seek to apply research theory and disciplined knowledge to practical, real-world research requests. So, to help these rising stars of research achieve success, we offer the following nuggets of advice:
Listen. Listen to everything, whether it’s news programs to hear about the latest trends, to mothers in stores negotiating with their children on which cereals are acceptable, to what consumers say—verbally, non-verbally and digitally (on social media)—about a product, to what clients are saying about their research needs and overall business objectives. All of these messages provide insights that help drive smarter business decisions.
Know that one size doesn’t not fit all. Rarely are two research projects the same. Take advertising research with its different business issues, varying marketing issues, and even differing project stimulus at hand: a method that worked for one advertising research study may not work for another. Learning and mastering a variety of designs and methods helps researchers stay on the top of their game and avoid becoming a niche “method researcher.”
Learn from those who have been around the block. Junior researchers tend to be super smart at conducting research using social media but may lack the business savvy and strategic thinking that comes from years in the business. Senior researchers may not be as expert with newer platforms, but they are great resources for screener and discussion guide development, designing ideal projective and/or homework exercises, not to mention calming nervous clients. Collaboration is the key to their success.
Tell report readers why the learnings matter. Today’s clients rely on research partners to help simplify their lives by delivering reports that present the learnings succinctly, convey why they matter, and recommend how to act upon the insights. Simply playing back the learnings is not enough. When analyzing the research findings and crafting the research story, always answer the questions: So, what? Why does this matter? What’s the benefit from this learning?
Be able to talk the talk. Fully immerse yourself in your clients’ products and categories. Use their products, watch the advertising (e. g., YouTube), read what consumers are saying (e.g., blog posts and social media), and know how the industry perceives these brands and clients (e.g., Ad Age, Adweek, etc.). The more you know, the more you will contribute to the design and analysis of the research.
Consumer insights are becoming more important than ever. To those new to our industry—and to those mentoring these future researchers and brand strategists—Doyle Research wishes you all the best.