by Elizabeth Gettys
At this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference (produced by the Insights Association), researchers gathered to tackle some of the industry’s most daunting questions such as, “How do we get marketing research a seat at the table?” “What does the industry need to embrace in order to move forward?” “How do we keep up with the pace of today’s consumer?” Questions like these were prevalent in keynotes, track talks, and cocktail conversations. After days of discussion and learning, three traits emerged as defining characteristics that will ignite success for the researcher of tomorrow.
01. BE WILLING TO EVOLVE.
Ask any researcher, and most will agree that the industry continues to shift and grow as technology becomes more mainstream and companies become more innovative. However, knowing how to evolve, then actually diving in and pushing research forward, can be a formidable task. The mix of marketing researchers, data scientists, and consumer insights professionals at CRC led to constant dialogue about the evolution of marketing research — within both sides of the industry — and many case studies of how that evolution has played out for others were shared.
With linking insights to analytics by ULTA to insights activation by EnerBank, the applications of what evolution looked like were broad. However, a core theme remained — as a researcher, we have to be willing to embrace change. Instead of responding to demands with the answer “That’s not how it’s normally done,” the researcher of tomorrow is taking the requests and instead asking “How can I help make this happen?” and more importantly “What will this make possible?”
02. BE COLLABORATIVE.
Not all tools are created equal… and neither are all processes. Although evolution and growth is a necessity of the basic practices within marketing research, caution was encouraged when diving into a new process or technique. Failed attempts and lackluster results are always dreaded, but the reality is that sometimes they exist. Collaboration was highly encouraged to help mitigate the risks associated with faster timelines, newer methodologies and more innovative processes. Working closely with internal stakeholders, as well as your external partner, was the secret to success for many. As Anne-Marie Davidson with REI shared in her track talk, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” So, in order to find the model most useful for you, learn to work with your internal and external teams to help reduce the risks associated.
Yet, even with the best collaboration and team dynamics, there are some lessons that can’t be avoided. No one wants to be wrong, but as keynote speaker Sarah Robb O’Hagan from Flywheel Sports encouraged, “Make failure your fuel.” If you have your team’s buy-in and partner with your stakeholders throughout the journey, no matter the outcome, your collaboration and willingness to evolve will push research forward.
03. BE OPEN TO INSPIRATION.
So, how do you become a better researcher? How do you evolve and continue to grow? The change starts with inspiration through observation. During his keynote, Jason Smith with Mac and Mia shared how he looks towards other industries like Restaurants and Food Service as inspiration to learn how to avoid pricing promotions in the retail industry. Through his observations, he learned that although the products are very different, there are perspectives and case studies specific to the restaurant industry that are applicable to his business as an online retailer.
By utilizing other industry approaches, new team structures, generational insights, and more, the opportunities for growth become clearer. Embracing a new perspective sheds light on common conventions that are worth refining. Taking inventory of these conventions, in addition to documenting consistent tensions, and dreaming of “what could be” based on inspiration from other sources are the catalysts for research innovation.
Overall, the researcher of tomorrow still carries core traits that are vital to a career in research – creativity and curiosity. However, to become better researchers and push the research industry forward, innovation, collaboration, and observation will be the spark that fuels our growth. Are you ready for the catalyst?
Leveraging her extensive experience with each phase of the research process, Elizabeth is an Account Executive at Burke who is able to quickly take on her client’s research question(s) and spring into action. Her analytic foresight, coupled with her ability to see multiple perspectives at once, enables her to uncover insights that lead to actionable strategies for her clients.