What is Your Market Research Identity?

March 25, 2010
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Is it time to slaughter your sacred research cows?

The relative interest in the recent post about the census surprised me a little. Not that I didn’t expect there to be traffic, after all census is something that affects everyone, and race is always a hot button topic. What surprised me was what a sacred cow the census is to some market researchers.

From MR perspective census data certainly is helpful in allowing us to sample and project survey results. There is money to be made thanks to the census and many MR firms have products that either directly or indirectly are tied to census data. However, if the Census were gone tomorrow that wouldn’t mean that the MR industry would somehow be set back would it? It is just as likely that the lack of census data would give rise to many new products to fill any information void.

The whole debate made me wonder how many of us market researchers link our professional identity to just one specific area of research such as survey data?

Today even linking your identity completely to either quantitative or qualitative may be a mistake. You should probably at least start to learn about hybrid quaili-quant methods

Is it time to slaughter your sacred research cows?

The relative interest in the recent post about the census surprised me a little. Not that I didn’t expect there to be traffic, after all census is something that affects everyone, and race is always a hot button topic. What surprised me was what a sacred cow the census is to some market researchers.

From MR perspective census data certainly is helpful in allowing us to sample and project survey results. There is money to be made thanks to the census and many MR firms have products that either directly or indirectly are tied to census data. However, if the Census were gone tomorrow that wouldn’t mean that the MR industry would somehow be set back would it? It is just as likely that the lack of census data would give rise to many new products to fill any information void.

The whole debate made me wonder how many of us market researchers link our professional identity to just one specific area of research such as survey data?

Today even linking your identity completely to either quantitative or qualitative may be a mistake. You should probably at least start to learn about hybrid quaili-quant methods made possible by advances in text analytics.

As I mentioned yesterday, MR is an interesting industry in that, in looking at much of our online discussion, conferences and what is published, we seem more obsessed than most others in worrying about change and our possible demise.

Personally I like change and prefer to think about opportunities and the eventual barriers to those opportunities. In my opinion true Next Gen Market Researchers do not have to worry about any looming end to our industry. The constant influx of data more than ensures that the need for expert analytics will only grow and grow.

While Anderson Analytics’ current business is in no small part survey research, should that business disappear tomorrow I would not worry too much. We are extremely well positioned to acquire and analyze any data regardless of its source and whether it is structured or unstructured (numbers or text).

If the majority of market researchers are uncomfortable envisioning a world without traditional surveys, then possibly the “market research” industry will eventually disappear. If that’s the case, I’d like to find out sooner rather than later so I can start referring to myself as a Business Analytics Professional or something else now.

Of course this trend already started quite a while ago on the client side with “Marketing Research” being replaced with terms like “Consumer Knowledge” or “Consumer Insights” etc.

Whatever happens, I’m fine with it. Having no sacred cows helps you think critically, see new better ways of doing things, and be ready for Next Gen Market Research!

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