There’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the world of market research. With the digital revolution powering new technological advances at every turn, the opportunities these innovations afford the market research industry are genuinely thrilling.
Yet, regardless of the technology, the rapid-pace advances, the tools, and resources, it’s the researcher who drives the industry’s forward motion. The skills and training, the abilities and aptitudes of market researchers are the forces propelling the sector to greater and greater heights.
Let’s look at the combination of hard and soft skills that lead to rock-star researcher status.
- Strong analytical skills
Transcribe Me! weighs in on this crucial skill. “Converting raw data to useful insights is the single biggest skill you need to have to be a leading researcher. Your clients depend on you to collect huge amounts of data – quantitative or qualitative. However, the key is to make sense of that data and convert it into actionable insights and trends for your clients’ business.”
Key questions driving each research initiative must be: Does this action directly tie back to the business goals? What business metrics will benefit from this research/data
- Math and financial acuity
“Being a research analyst means being able to see the relationships between the data and to make correlations between data trends,” notes Barbara Bean-Mellinger. “For example, if you see high numbers in an unexpected category, you know you need to check the areas that can affect that category. You also need to be comfortable performing calculations such as percentages and ratios, and understanding what they mean in your research.”
A grasp of multiple research methods
“There is a vast range of qualitative research methods. Each comes with a unique set of benefits and challenges, suited to a range of situations,” shares Christopher Martin. “Focus groups provide a detailed opinion in a social environment, whereas diary studies ensure in-the-moment individual reflection. Research communities include a range of participants and allow for comparative analysis, while interviews give in-depth opinions of a single participant.”
Along with an understanding of how each of these methods can be used, the ability to match the best practice to any situation is essential.
It’s no secret that analytical “techy types” often prefer numbers and data to people and human interaction. But the best market researchers will have an ample supply of soft skills that complement their tech-related hard skills.
- A friendly, approachable demeanor
“As a market researcher, you will be meeting people on a day-to-day basis,” advises Transcribe Me! “It’s critical that you are a people person. To make sure that research subjects feel ‘at home’ when they are with you is paramount. It is possible that their answers might be different if they feel under pressure compared to when they are at ease and relaxed during the interview.”
- An open mind, a lack of pre-disposition
“It is always important when conducting any research to keep an open mind and attempt to reduce any potential element of confirmation bias,” reminds Martin. “But nowhere is this more important than in qualitative research studies, where there is often direct interaction between researchers and participants.”
An awareness of how “leading questions” can skew answers is crucial. Despite the temptation to intervene just a smidge, a recognition of and commitment to the most honest and accurate feedback from consumers is a must.
3. A ceaselessly-curious mind
Albert Einstein claimed, “I have no special talents. I’m only passionately curious.”
“I’m betting that Mr. Einstein did have a few special talents, but he clearly valued his curiosity above all,” asserts Boutelle. “That curiosity is equally important to be a great researcher. If you’re always wondering, asking why, digging a bit deeper, you will come up with things that your client wouldn’t have thought of. And that’s why they’ll hire you again.”
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