Evolution of opportunities in Market Research

Mustard’s Gareth (Director) thinks about the evolution of opportunities to work in the market research sector and the diverse skill-sets which can now be applied.

In my near 20 years in the market research industry, a common cliché I’ve encountered when talking to people about how they ended up working in the sector is that they ‘fell into it’. I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who said that they left school with the objective of pursuing a career in market research, and subsequently chose their degree with this in mind (and that’s when I put my thumb and index figure together to make a big ‘0’ shape).

On the other hand, I’ve met plenty of people who studied business, or maths, or psychology, or sociology (or anything else) who noticed a couple of transferable bullets on a job description and subsequently realised that market research afforded them the ability to apply their skill-set in a professional environment.

I’m not sure that this is going to change any time soon either. As the industry has evolved over the last 20 years one thing that strikes me is how many more opportunities there are for people to ‘fall’ into market research.

Evolution of opportunities in Market Research

When myself and other graduates from the year 2000 emerged from our Y2K bunkers and entered the industry, the required skill-set centred around an ability to analyse quantitative and/or qualitative data, confidently engage with people on a one-to-one basis, and have a basic competence in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

It’s a very different landscape these days. As the industry has evolved, so has the skill-set of the people joining it. With a greater focus on visual presentation and more effective communication, we now see people from a graphic design background. Technological developments and a desire to make things more ‘real’ opens the door for video-editors and film-makers. Greater sophistication and accessibility in data brings data scientists, and a need for more interactive, gamified and engaging surveys draws in people with development skills. A smaller world has brought a need for more language skills, and the ability to apply numerous information sources has opened the door for social media specialists, futurists and trends analysts.

With this evolution, I question whether as an industry we do enough to promote ourselves and the broad and exciting professional opportunities we now offer? The industry has never been more exciting and never been more attractive for fresh talent – can market research finally become a destination rather than a convenient drop-off point?

Either way, I look forward to working alongside the next wave of people with unique skill-skills, whether they target the industry or happily fall into it like me!