Archive for January, 2013

Forrester Research, A Global Research & Advisory Firm

In this summer, I was really lucky to intern at Forrester Research, one of the most reputable global research and advisory firms. This is my first market research experience out of school, inspiring me how market research is like as a career. Honestly, it was not an internship that I would say is very enjoyable (you might find some reasons below in this post), but it didn’t change my dream of being a future market researcher and recently I realized that what I learned at Forrester is even more that I imagined.  I’m planning to share all the valuable experiences I had during those 3 months little by little in my future posts, making them into a series called “Market Research as a Career”. In today’s very first post for this series, I’d like to begin generally and share with you some of the keywords (or phrases) of market research as a career.

Forrester and Me

Challenging, Intense, but Exciting. I don’t need to explain how many advantages of having your first internship at a big name firm in a field, but believe it or not, there are also a small number of disadvantages, especially in the market research industry. The main reason is that it is a super challenging and intense profession. And the firms, especially big firms, always have high expectations on their employees, even on the interns like me. That is because, as an industry of great intelligence and power, market research firms are  “required” by the clients to always be the best. So, it’s normal that you feel stressful and unadaptable at the beginning of your market research career. When the first time I saw the schedule of my supervisor (Mr. TJ Keitt, Senior Analyst on CIO Research Team) is full from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., I really had no idea how he would handle it.  I saw him immersed himself in the endless interviews for new research reports, inquires by current customers and request for proposals (RFP). However, he enjoyed it, so did other analysts on our team I observed. Market research as a career has its magic: be the first one to identify new trends that might change an industry, be the hero (or heroine) who save your clients out of terrible situations, be the one who is respected by thinking logically, critically and comprehensively. Nobody can ever say that is not exciting!

Communication is the KING. There is no doubt market research is a teamwork. As I talked in the previous post, it’s all about solving problems, a market research project always has a long process (10-12 steps) and it is very continuous and inter-related. In industry, due to time and budget limit, it is impossible for one single team or department to handle all the steps. Survey design, sample selection, data analysis would be assigned to different departments, or even be outsourced. Though the tasks is in the charge of different teams, the results must be logical and consistent. Therefore, effective communication to other teams is the king for working at a market research firm.

Attention to details. This is quite self-exploratory. Market analysts always work with huge datasets and complex data analysis. Even an small error in data entering will make the output nothing but garbage.

Aggressiveness makes a good researcher. I was quite reversed during my internship at Forrester. When you a newbie surrounded by super smart analysts in a meeting, it’s too hard to bravely speak out the ideas in your mind! However, you have to! TJ told me that in a market research firm, almost no promotion is caused solely by how long you have been working. The “shortcut” to become a experienced and respected researcher is to voluntarily ask for various kinds of work. In other words, be aggressive.

Like my keywords for market research as a career? What are yours?

Let’s continue Jessie’s “Good Survey Guideline” checklist today. This is the third also the last part of this list. Find more tips below!

The Principle of Measurement (Part 3)

Hypothetical: Hypothetical measure is a description of a fictitious situation in which you are asking the individual to place themselves. The longer the description and the further removed it it from the reality of the respondent, the more is the burden you imposing on the respondent. So try your best to keep it short and practical.

Open-Ended: An open-ended measure is when the researcher does not provide the respondent with a set of response categories. The advantage of open-ended questions: 1) It does not restrict the respondent to predetermined categories; 2) It is suitable when the total number of potential response categories is very large and/or response categories are not fully known by the researcher; 3) It is suitable when providing response categories can influence some aspect of the respondent’s answer or knowledge; 4) It is suitable for exploratory research.

Recall: It refers to the instances when the question is asking respondents to remember beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and/or behavior that they held or in which they engaged at a prior date. Recall can introduce burden onto the respondent.For enhancing recall, provide reference points and prime the respondents whenever possible.

Neutral Stance: It refers to an instance when the individual does not have a clear direction in his or her stated opinion/attitude. It should be included when you want to ensure that the data would be indicative of how respondents truly felt about a certain aspect of the product.


Questionnaire is the most common and powerful self-report-based measurement instrument. However, since human beings are extremely complicated, it’s really hard to pull survey participants’ real attitudes and thoughts out of their minds. I saw several readers of my previous posts mentioned that they would like to know more about the secret sause of designing a good questionnaire. I’m planing to generalize the tips I knew into a checklist. Next time when you are asked to develop a questionnaire, you can refer to my list and optimize your surveys. Since the list is pretty long, I’m going to cut it into three parts. Today Let’s begin with part 1 of Jessie’s “Good Survey Guideline List”.

The Principle of Measurement (Part 1)

Language: The questions and statements on a questionnaire should be straightforward in a spoken language style. The simpler, the better. No slang.

Length: Questions should be kept short except where lengthy statements were necessary to emphasize meaning.

Focus: Each question should be phrased to encompass only one dimension of the theme at a time. You should avoid including any explicit or implicit double-barreled statements.

Meaning: When there is a key concept that might be understood differently by various respondents, you should introduce the concepts with the narrowest meaning possible to clearly express it to all respondents.

(List to be Continued…)