Breadth and Depth: How to become a better Market Researcher
Despite (or perhaps because of!) the growing number of training courses in consumer / market research, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, as someone who once found themselves wondering that exact thing, here are a few tips.
A good researcher needs to build two things:
- Breadth: A strong technical skill set across a large range of methods
- Depth: An advanced area of expertise
Early on in your career it’s important to focus firstly on building breadth. You need to gain knowledge and experiences across different research approaches in order to understand the benefits, value and applications of all facets of research. This will give you the understanding of how and when to apply each methodology.
Now-a-days (yes I feel old!) there are many places that can help you kick off building a broad foundation:
- The Market Research Society (MRS) has a good range of “Introduction to…” courses.
- You could work towards the MRS Certificate in Market Research or even their Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice.
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing also offers some good market research training courses.
- Many universities now offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses which focus on, or include aspects of Consumer Psychology, Consumer Behaviour and even Consumer Sciences.
However, before doing any of these I would urge you to look internally and answer the following questions:
- Are there any internal courses which provide training tailored towards your specific business or function?
- Are there any peers or mentors with different areas of expertise that could talk to? Even better, are there other researchers who you could watch and feedback on and ask them to do the same in return? Everyone gets to build their experience that way. Taking different approaches, from different people, and applying them in different ways is what keeps us moving forward as a MRX community.
Once you’ve built a strong market research foundation you can then focus on your depth. What is your passion? What aspect of research naturally suits you the most? For me this was qualitative consumer behaviour. For you it could be shopper journeys, or biometric research techniques, or even quantitative market analytics.
Finding more advanced training in specialist areas can be much harder. My first tip here would be to keep building your hands on experience. Volunteer to support colleagues preparing or running their research. If your passion is qual you could offer to moderate or note take, for quant you could help write questionnaires or clean data.
When it comes to theoretical training, there are courses available for the more traditional techniques, such as the Campden BRI consumer and sensory science courses or the advanced MRS training. However, for more niche and emerging methods it is also worth searching out specialists in the area and approaching them for more bespoke training.
Whatever course you decide to take, my challenge to you is to stay true to the consumer and keep the industry evolving.
Drop me an email if you’d like to chat more about the world of market research, or my journey into the big, wide world of mobile ethnography.