FEATURE24 September 2010

Ex-Cadbury researcher adjusts to life on the agencyside

Features People

Former Cadbury insight manager Michelle Kelly has recently joined brand development agency Sundance as a member of its research team. In this Spotlight interview, we ask her to assess the differences between life as a buyer of research and life as a seller.

We previously reported on Kelly’s job change here.

How did you get into market research?
From studying international marketing management at university, diverse international cultures and brands soon became a passion of mine, coupled with the desire to understand people and their attitudes and behaviour. From working with Unilever and Cadbury in consumer insight, this has truly amplified this passion which has led me to the role that I am in now.

What does your new role involve?
Managing the agencyside research process for a number of key clients, from proposal writing, discussion guide design and moderation, through to analysis and debrief stages. I am currently training and developing my moderation skills and learning the project management journey through practice.

What are the differences between working on the client side and being on the agency side?
The “doing” mainly. Rrather than buying research as part of the wider role, I now conduct the research and manage the process. The clientside background will inevitably aid my new role in terms of client understanding but also to further understand the research agency market place.

What is the most challenging research project you’ve worked on?
Probably the Cadbury consumer segmentation for the Giving and Seasonal portfolio, as this required at lot of preparation but also a lengthy portfolio analysis and future strategic thinking.

Is there anything you’d do differently in your career if you had the chance?
No, not really. I am really happy with the choices that I have made and I have worked with some superb people in my time and have thoroughly enjoyed working with them and learning from them. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been presented to me.

What makes a ‘good’ researcher?
Intuition. Observation. Objectivity. And a strong passion for consumers/shoppers.

As a client how do you go about picking a research agency?
I have worked with an array of great research agencies in my short time in research and they all bring something very different depending on who you are working with and for what kind of project. From a clientside point of view, I very much feel that it is the job of the insight manager/planner to choose the best agency, based on experience and skill set, for the right job – and for the research agency to balance and build a compelling insights story with actionable recommendations.

And now you are on the agencyside, what would you ask clients to do to make your job easier?
I’ve been with Sundance for two weeks now, but I have noticed that a quick turnaround from fieldwork to analysis is becoming the norm rather than a rarity. So it would be nice to have more thinking time in between the fieldwork and analysis stages.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to have travelled and experienced consumer behaviour across the globe and expanded on my international marketing and research skills working with an array of brands and categories. Maybe then I would like to go into teaching marketing and research at university level.