OPINION1 May 2018

Rediscovering your passion for market research

B2B Opinion People

Has market research lost its joie de vivre? Horst Feldhaeuser suggests seven ways for researchers to reclaim their enthusiasm for the industry.

Enthusiasm hands up_crop

Did you know that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime? This well-known statistic isn’t often paired with the fact that many of us don’t actually like what we do. According to a recent study by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, only 13% of the US workforce is passionate about their jobs. That’s a dismal statistic, and it’s probably closely mirrored around the globe.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m part of that 13% who love their job. I love this industry and its many faces, and I know I’m not the only one. Many of my market research colleagues are equally as passionate about our industry. 

But the fact remains: market research has, somewhere along the way, lost a bit of its enthusiasm. In the past few years, our landscape has changed significantly, with tightened budgets, demands for speed and some commoditised research functions. Has working in market research become the same as working in any other service-related industry? Has the profile of the modern-day market researcher changed as a new generation have joined us? 

When I started my career, people were eager to go to market research events on top of working regular hours. We wanted to learn about our industry and mingle with like-minded folks, even if the event wasn't a perfect fit. Has this changed? Over the last few years, I’ve often invited team members to such events (paid for by the company), but usually with very little uptake. There could be several reasons for this. A more digitally connected, younger workforce that doesn’t see the need for face-to-face interaction? Staff that is worked too hard already, with long hours spent in the office? Or, possibly, a lack of passion?

Have you lost the passion for market research? Here are seven ways to re-kindle your love:

1. Embrace what you do and make the most out of it. Yes, I know, writing long tracking reports is often boring and repetitive, but see it as an awesome training ground. And if your firm still doesn’t allow you to do anything else after six-12 months, put the experience you’ve gained under your belt and start looking for a change.

2. Find amazing people to work with. There’s nothing like a shared goal and infectious group enthusiasm to breathe some new life into your daily job. Looking for a new job? Explore company social media profiles to get a sense of their culture, or talk to others in the industry. And always take the opportunity to learn from other around you, whether they’re colleagues or clients. 

3. Find a company where you can learn different skills. If you’ve been stuck as a cog in the wheel of a market research project, perhaps consider a move to a company where you can manage different functions. There are many steps along any consumer insights project. The more you can experience, the quicker you will find one that brings you satisfaction, and even joy. 

4. Attend industry events. There’s nothing more inspiring than hearing a presenter who is passionate about their topic, or talking about issues with others and getting new ideas. Events are the best place to reignite passion by learning new things and networking with like-minded people. And you grow as a person and researcher when you present your learnings back to your team. Who knows? Someday, you might even be the one speaking, sharing your own passion with others. Ask your boss to send you to the next conference. Even if it seems like a long shot, you never know until you ask.

5. Join an industry committee if you can. Now you’re helping to shape this industry! Not only will you meet peers and mentors, but people in the industry will get to know you. Joining a board or committee can help you stay keyed in to current events and technologies, staying ahead of the curve on innovations. 

6. Read the latest news from thought leaders. There are a lot of brilliant people in this industry and many of them enthusiastically share their knowledge. Sign up to read about what’s going on in the universe. There’s no easier way to expand your market research horizon.

7. Watch your attitude. The power of positive, proactive thinking is a real phenomenon.

In my opinion, there has never been a more exciting time to be in the market research and insights industry. I hear and read about excitement and enthusiasm from both seasoned colleagues and young researchers. I’m encouraged that passion in market research is still well and truly alive. If you’ve lost yours somewhere along the way, I challenge you to look a little harder to find it.

Horst Feldhaeuser is group client director at Infotools, leading the global Coca-Cola account, and a fellow at the Research Association of New Zealand (RANZ).