Who grows up thinking “When I get older I’m going to be a market researcher”? Not me – I was going to be a baker!
When searching for opinion pieces on “who works in market research” or “what type of people work in market research” all that comes up is a smattering of recruitment type articles on the skills and background needed to be suitable for a career in market research.
Funnily enough our MD in Singapore, Phil Steggals, wrote an interesting piece a few months back on what the research industry needs to do to attract talent. In it he made the claim that:
Now before we go any further I’m going to level with you - I love learning and I don’t think anyone could say I lack passion while keeping a straight face.
Since moving from Dublin to London in September 2013 (four years ago) I have completed a part-time MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, kept honeybees on the roof of the university, and built a public access beehive for Southwark Park a few months after graduating. At the same time I worked fulltime as a chef for two years (moving from Commis chef to CDP), and co-opened two restaurants. Why? Because I love learning.
So when I got to Kadence all I was thinking about was why do these people work in market research? And when the opportunity came to put pen to paper I had a look around our office to find out if they just “fell” into it, same as me.
There were noticeable similarities for sure - the usual two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and a keen mind for storytelling. So I decided to dig a little deeper and interviewed our Graduates and Insight / Project Executives.
What I found is that there is a type of person who enjoys working in market research. Let me illuminate…
We’ve done a lot before coming to work here:
We have Masters Graduates, Business Graduates, to Language Graduates – some have even been interviewers in our call centre, but that is not all our graduates have done in the past. Camilla, for example, studied Mandarin in Beijing, worked in the renewable energy sector, then as a translator for an investment company before joining Kadence as an interviewer (speaking Norwegian, Swedish, English AND Mandarin). She now works in Fieldwork Services as a Graduate Project Executive.
“As a translator you have very little input. You just translate and say it how it is, without any suggestions or amendments. It can be quite limiting. As a Project Exec, especially one with interviewing experience, I know what works and what doesn’t when running a project in a call-centre. I get to communicate this to clients and have a direct impact on the quality of the research we do.” (Camilla)
We are interested in everything:
The range of work done at Kadence excites us, even if it can seem challenging in the beginning. For instance Hazel, who joined the Insight Team in 2014 after working for The University of Leicester, remembers how difficult, and oddly engaging, her first experience in market research was:
“The first project I was ever on was around dysphagia. It was this pot of jelly that people take to help them with swallowing – something I had no idea about beforehand. I remember I was in the backroom of a Birmingham viewing facility taking notes on a focus group during my second week and thinking "What am I doing? This is really odd!” but I really learnt a lot from that experience.” (Hazel)
My God are we nosy!
Often there is more to find out beyond surface level answers and we love to find out what. This article is a case-in-point. I could talk about specifics for days but Nicky, who joined as a Graduate Insight Executive with me eight months ago, puts it best:
“I like being given the platform to probe into someone’s mind and ask them what is going on. Being allowed to be really inquisitive is fun because you wouldn't be allowed to do that normally. It is like permission to be nosy” (Nicky)
We are always insightful, from the biggest project to the smallest mannerism:
Regardless of the subject our graduates have valid insight into any situation and can convey themselves clearly and intentionally. How Klaudia explained her insight into the English working culture was quite possibly the funniest few sentences I’ve ever heard. It is such a shame I can’t share the recording with you...
“From working with people here I have learnt a lot about English culture. Mainly politeness *laughs*. I’ve learn so many different ways to be polite. For example - "Could you do this?", "I didn't mean this", "Yes, we should do this", "That is absolutely fine!", "No worries". It is useful when discussing ideas or communicating to clients. In Poland things are straightforward, there is much less small-talk”. (Klaudia)
We see a future for ourselves in this field:
We’ve all noticed that many of the current staff have worked their way up from more junior roles within Kadence (from project managers to managing directors) and that there is a huge capacity to expand and take on responsibility. Jamie, a Project Executive in Fieldwork Services who started out as an interviewer in the call centre, spoke about the progression of his manager, who also started out as an interviewer in the call centre seven years ago.
“I remember that when we were in Putney Ellie would come and check on the interviewers as a Project Exec. And then I remember ccing her in emails when she was a Project Manager. When we moved offices to Waterloo she was an Associate Director, and now she is Fieldwork Services Director. So there is definitely opportunity for progression, which I really like. If you want more responsibility you can ask for it and take it on.” (Jamie)
So did we all just ‘fall’ into market research? That is for you to decide. To be quite honest it isn’t really important. What is important is the type of people who work at Kadence are inquisitive, curious, and insightful with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to make a difference.
My advice to those out there who would like to work in market research is this: Rather than thinking “do I have the relevant experience for this”, or “how can I get into this field,” look at what you love to do and where you can be paid to do that. This just seems completely intuitive to me - why would you spend 40 hours week in a job that doesn’t come naturally to you and you don’t enjoy doing?
As a parting word I’d like to leave you with another nugget from Phil in Singapore: