It’s an exciting time for the Market Research industry. With the advent of new technologies powered by the smartphone and digital revolutions, there are more opportunities and tools available than researchers can utilize.
The pace of innovation is at its peek and its easy to ride the wave and forget the basics. No matter how great the technology is, YOU – the researcher – are still the driver of it. So, let’s get back to basics and go through the must have characteristics you need to possess to be an excellent Market Researcher!
1. Strong Analytical Skills
Converting raw data to useful insights is the single biggest skill you need to have to be a leading researcher. Your clients depend on you to collect huge amounts of data – quantitative or qualitative. However, the key is to make sense of that data and convert it into actionable insights and trends for your clients’ business. Ultimately, everything should tie back to the business goals. How would this research help my client in improving the key business metrics they care about? These could be the traditional ones like revenue, customer experience, marketing ROI, or increase in new customers. The key is that you understand the final business objectives and analyze the data taking that into consideration. Furthermore, it is imperative to visualize your analysis and present results in an easy to understand format that the management can relate to right away.
2. Approachable & Friendly
Surely, that is not hard to be! As a market researcher, you will be meeting people on a day-to-day basis. You will be conducting anywhere between 20-40 one-on-one interviews and focus groups on a monthly basis. It’s critical that you are a people person. To make sure that research subjects feel “at home” when they are with you is paramount. It is possible that their answers might be different if they feel under pressure compared to when they are at ease and relaxed during the interview.
3. Methodological like a Scientist
Market Research is not science – far from it – but researchers should use the time tested and well established scientific methodology to uncover useful insights for clients. Any thorough researcher would make sure that the process of uncovering insights follows the scientific procedure: Observation, Hypothesis, Prediction & Testing. The results and insights from the project vitally depend on the process followed to get to those insights. Consequently, it is key to have a strong, validated and scientific process to gather insights.
4. Curious by Nature
Essentially, a researchers role is much like that of an intelligent messenger. He or she gathers raw data from one party (they research subjects by conducting in-depth interviews and focus groups) and applies his intelligence and analytical skills to convert it into meaningful and useful insight for the second party (the client). Most researchers by nature or by profession are, or should be, always hungry and curious for information about anything. If you expect to unearth actionable insights for your client, you should be curious to find them yourself. The deeper you can dig, the better information and probably better insights you can gather.
5. Star Communicator
Communication – verbal or written – is key for all professions, more so for market researchers. As discussed before, in layman terms, the researchers role can be defined as very intelligent communicator or a messenger. On one end, your job is to effectively communicate with the research subjects either verbally (interviews or focus groups) or written (quantitative surveys). At the other end, you present your analysis to your clients in a well documented, actionable, and visually attractive report that helps the clients to make informative decisions.
Furthermore, as you’re communicating to different audiences with different objectives, you need to be able to adapt your communication style and also your terminology based on your audience.
6. Anti Stereotypical
Stereotypes are dangerous. As a researcher, your goal is to find insights based on the facts and data you collect not on pre-informed opinions or societal stereotypes. As an individual, you might have established stereotypes based on your professional or personal experiences. However, it is imperative that you keep them aside and conduct your research with a neutral mindset. Quality researchers are data and trend fanatics. They don’t believe in making even the smallest of assumptions or in having stereotypes. It’s hard on an individual level, but it is hugely important if you aspire to become a leading market researcher.
7. Client Focused not Method Focused
Every client is different. Every project is different. Rather than having standard tools and methods that you might use for all projects, you should first try to understand the needs of the project and the business and then decide the research methods to use. You should always adopt the research to the problem rather than start with a research method and then find a problem to solve. Furthermore, there is no one method or set of methods, No one is better than others. Solid research recognizes the value of using multiple methods, tools and data sets to achieve repeatable and reliable results.
Okay, that’s it: the top 7 characteristics you need to have to become a high quality market researcher. This is definitely not an exhaustive list. So, please tell us in the comments below what else do you think is important to become a leading researcher?
This article was originally written by Chirag Ahuja and published here on August 6, 2012.