Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You’re a market researcher and you don’t even know it

I know I’m a market researcher. I write surveys that ask people about their purchases, what they plan to purchase, and why they plan to purchase those things. I use words like norms, box scores, and straightlining. Chances are, if you know what those words mean, you’re also a market researcher.

But out there, in the great wide world of the interweeb, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have no clue that they are market researchers. They have impressive sounding titles like “Database and Analytics Manager,” or “Business Intelligence Analyst,” or “Data Scientist” which are nothing like our traditional titles of “Market Research Manager,” or “Qualitative Researcher.”

Have you considered what people with these strange titles actually do? Take a gander at a few quotes from some LinkedIn profiles:
  • ·        Work with marketing and merchandising managers to develop marketing campaigns that drive incremental sales and revenue by supplying data insights and support for better decision making
  • ·        Evaluate data-driven insights to identify opportunities for optimization of marketing campaigns and provide recommendations to improve program performance
  • ·        Driving marketing strategy and tactics through the design, development, and implementation of segmentation based marketing solutions
  • ·        Provide insight into user experience
I don’t know about you but that sounds an awful lot like a market researcher to me. Though we may not speak the same language or belong to the same industry organizations, what brings us all together is one common goal:  To collect, organize, and analyze data to better understand consumers and their needs. 

We talk a lot about new and innovative methods of marketing research. We focus a lot of attention on eye-tracking and neuroscience and social media listening and a whole host of other really cool technological devices. Perhaps in our quest to seek out the next tool that will bring us untold insights, we have forgotten the simplest strategy: Talking to the people sitting next to us typing wildly at their computers, the people who are already conducting marketing research albeit under another name.

Annie Pettit, PhD is the Chief Research Officer at Peanut Labs, a company specializing in self-serve panel sample. Annie is a methodologist focused on data quality, listening research, and survey methods. She won Best Methodological Paper at Esomar 2013, and the 2011 AMA David K. Hardin Award. Annie tweets at @LoveStats and can be reached at

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