Archive for December, 2012

Due to the final exams and my trip back to China (where you cannot access WordPress, so so sad), this might be my last post for 2012. To give 2012 a nice and meaningful closing, I decided to write about a life lesson market research taught me.

Life is full of ups and downs, just like a kid’s mood. Sometimes I feel I’m so powerful that I can solve any problem, but sometimes I feel so useless like nothing. As a researcher, I tried to solve this problem and keep a good balance of my mood. I started my “research” by analyzing the pattern of my “downs”: I realized almost all of them happened when I found I cannot do something well, especially not as well as somebody else can. Because of the “failure”, I started to question myself: my capability, my interpersonal relationship, my everything… Then I felt awful, and before realizing it I was already in the “pessimistic chasm”. Obviously, to keep things from going all the way wrong, I need to figure out why the feeling of “failure” can give me such dramatic negative influence. See, the research question emerged by itself! (I knew this sounds kinda crazy, but please bear with me for a sec. We are almost there for the life lesson!)

No one likes the feeling of “I cannot do something well’. However, individuals’ opinion on “failure” varies. We all know that “failure is the mother of success”, but when YOU are facing a “failure”, it’s way too hard to remind yourself it’s not a big deal. That’s exactly the reason why the “old me” was beaten so hardly by “failures”. Nevertheless, just like all kinds of research methods have their native defects and inevitable errors, fault and failure is an inherent part of life. Also like research, positive mood and life can be generalized into 5 keywords: Variation, Selection, Trail, Error and Correction.

In my point of view, variation is the essential beauty of the world. Market research exists because of the diversity among a population. Same for our lives: everyone in your life is different, every single approach to solve a problem is different, YOU become different in every minute. It is wonderful if you select the “right” one, thing or approach at your first try, BUT it’s not always the case, and please remember it’s also not NECESSARY. We might have to face the “errors”, but at most of time, we also have opportunities and right to correct it! We felt so bad when we were in the middle of the process, but after it was done, we looked back, and realized we learned so much.

Below is a TED talk that inspired me with the ideas in this post. If you are experiencing a bad mood or feeling confused and vulnerable, I highly recommend you to watch it.

A future market researcher’s closing words for 2012: Please enjoy the process of Variation, Selection, Trial, Error & Correction! Just as we can always optimize a research, we can also choose to be brave and optimize our lives! 

I started to “research” the market research industry from this April when I was actively looking for a relevant internship. Though I’m far from being an expert, my “research findings” did help me win the internship opportunity at Forrester Research. In this post I’m going to show you a snapshot of market research industry from a career-oriented viewpoint.

To make it clear, I created a diagram to show you what market research industry look like in my mind. Traditionally, market research firms can be assigned to two categories: research-focused firms and consulting-focused firms. Most of the research-focused firms will do both syndicated industry research and one-on-one consulting, while most of the consulting-focused firms don’t provide syndicated market research. From a firm’s products and services, it is easy to tell whether it leans to research or consulting. For example, Forrester is a research-focused firm with 70% syndicated research and 30% consulting projects.

A Snapshot of Market Research Industry by Jessie

Most of the research-focused firms will have their own expertise, that is to say, most of their research will focus on one or two industries. Based on my knowledge, Gartner, IDG and Forester Research are well-know for their authority in technology industry; IMS Health, SymphonyIRI Group are experts in health care market research. There are also some research-focused firms that don’t have a focused industry, like GfK Custom Research and Communispace. I prefer to call them “marketing research firms” since their research aims at generally exploring customer insights instead of predicting industry trends.

In consulting-focused market research firms, typically, there will be two major departments: account management team and data analysis team. People in the management team work at the “front desk”. They are the “communicators” who interact and maintain relationship with the clients. Their colleagues in the data analysis team will spend most of their time with computer, dataset and statistical analysis. They are the “techies” who ensure the research designs are optimized and the research findings are correct. As shown in the diagram, some top consulting-focused market research firms include Kantar Retail, Westat, and Datamonitor.

It is worth noting that there is an emerging new type of market research firms with the popularity of social media, online community and big data. Communispace is probably the most fast-growing market research firm on online community . Founded in 1999, this firm has been providing online consumer insights communities for market research for more than 10 years. The idea of online community makes market research even more powerful because it helps to identify various market segments for a product, service or brand. Crimson Hexagon is a good example of big data analysis firm. It helps the clients to get customer insights by analyzing relevant tweets, facebook posts and data from other social media. Thanks to big data analysis, market research, at its first time, is able to target each single individual instead of a big group.

Hope this post can give you a basic understanding of the market research industry. I’m planning to write more about the industry in the future, introducing the top market research firms one by one. Which firm would you like me to introduce first?