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Market research is...

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14:15 PM | 1 June 2011

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If someone had told me back in university that I would be working in market research today I would have thought they were crazy. I can distinctly recall sitting through my first market research modules and thinking that they were the most boring marketing classes I could have ever taken. All this talk of ANOVA tables, regression and statistics didn’t really fit with the creative, strategic and sexy vision that I had of marketing.

After graduation, I moved to London and I did what any new grad does-- began looking for a job--any job. After some searching, rubbish-job-doing and networking, I started as a temp at Millward Brown: a market research agency. After my first day at MB, the impression I had built up during my four years at university was shattered. Not because I was happy to have gotten a job, but because I had in fact underestimated the industry—entirely. I became so enthralled and engaged with the work Millward Brown does, that after a few months of hard-work I was excited to start my career as a researcher.

The purpose of this post is not going to help you write a better CV, build your portfolio or even help you land an interview at a company like Millward Brown. Its purpose is to expose an industry which frequently gets misjudged. Market research is not all about calculating regressions and ANOVA tables like they teach in university. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you how to do that now.

Marketing research is just as much about coming up with new ideas and designing as advertising is: Creativity in digital does notjust equal fields like advertising. There are many opportunities to stretch your creative muscle in other sectors as well.

A large part of my everyday job as a market researcher is coming up with strategy and trying to think ‘outside the box’. On a daily basis, creativity in market research can be something as simple as designing a new deliverable and making the data more visually appealing and easier for a client to digest (a niche called information design for all you graphic designers), to the more complex ‘creations’, such as devising solutions to help a client solve a particular research problem.

There is nothing more mind stretching than getting back a set of results and trying to come up with a ‘story’. Pablo Picasso once said ‘the chief enemy of creativity is good sense’. Granted, creativity cannot be sensible; but perhaps the art of making sense takes a small element of creativity.

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