A researcher I have known for a number of years said this to me recently. When I asked this person what they meant, I fully expected an answer dealing with the impact of the economy. The answer I received came as a surprise.

This person’s answer dealt with the impact of technology, and how it has changed what they liked about marketing research. I was told that one of the things that attracted them to MR was the fact that to a great degree it was relationship based, and that technology has changed these relationships to such a degree that it is “no longer fun.” I agreed that technology has certainly had a huge impact on communication and the techniques that researchers employ, but that I still found MR to be fun and challenging.

This researcher focused on a few key items:

  • The fact that we communicate these days more by e-mail than we do by phone has made contacts and communication more impersonal. This has the effect of removing certain elements of the relationship and partnership that exists on research projects.
  • The speed of communication and the impact of Web based research has compressed the timeline for deliverable and modified expectations. This means that we have fewer opportunities to communicate concerns and make changes when things go wrong. This in turn leads to poorer quality research, but no one seems overly concerned anymore about the quality of research, just the speed and cost.
  • We face increased competition from non-researchers purporting to do or know how to do MR. These non-researchers frequently do such a poor job that they tarnish our profession.

I must admit, while I couldn’t disagree with a lot of what my friend told me, I do believe that all of this really represents a change in the challenges that our profession presents, and that I have always found challenges stimulating. They are puzzles that must be solved, and represent obstacles we must overcome. I find this process to be stimulating and interesting.

What about you? Do you believe that our business “isn’t fun anymore?” Has your relationship to the profession changed so much, that you no longer enjoy your work?

Editor’s Challenge:
After reading this entry, some thoughts and questions come to mind:

  • What do you think about the new forms of competition?
  • Does it make your job more exciting, or do you feel it is hurting the profession?
  • How do feel about the new technology and the use of e-mail?
  • Does it make work more complicated or does the quick turnaround that technology brings help you in this profession?

COMMENTS:

Though I certainly understand the trepidation from the researcher, one must recognize the World is moving faster. Market Research simply must keep pace. Although email communication is much more prevalent, I've never found that clients can't be reached when for needed discussions and even through email, solid relationships can and are formed.
Imposters in MR will always be exposed eventually. Once they are, clients are much more reticent to move away. The cream always rises to the top.

- Frank 01/06/2010


The new forms of communications are great. A group or industry that has not been known to communicate well has found a way to communicate. Researchers who use to stop and ponder each thought now blast ideas around and gather information so quickly. Views are shared and ideas are proposed so quickly that now we have more information to help. I believe the increase of communication is a better thing even if it is a bit sloppier.

- Jim Steber 01/06/2010


I agree with Susan. I find research to be more exciting than ever before. The speed and lower cost of research means that many things are now researched that weren’t before. It has expanded the opportunities for us. Maybe it has something to do with my attention span, but I’d much rather work on the projects that are completed in weeks than ones that drag out for months.

As far as communication goes, I’ve found that email makes people more communicative. They share more personal things about themselves. They develop a personality. By the time you actually meet them in person, you know them fairly well. This rapport is a springboard to a long term relationship.

- Ken Roberts 01/12/2010


I have always felt that competition is good for all involved. It (should) keep you focused and hungry to keep the price/value needle moving in the right direction.

I believe that, used properly,technology will help MR. With clients (and society in general) wanting everything "yesterday," technological advances can help time and cost efficiencies. I am a firm believer in e-mail. Besides quick turnaround it also provides supporting documentation, if needed.

- Jeff Morton, PRC 05/14/2010


The new technology and methodologies have opened up entire fields and audiences to the MR world. Those who plan around a shorter timeline and codify the schedule for their clients help those clients keep up with the faster process. Problems don't require meetings anymore; they require swift in-the-hall resolution (and pleased clients).

There have been MR charlatans forever. C'mon, we cannot focus on them - let's focus on communicating clearly with our clients. The good MR folks will maintain strong client bases even as they explore the leading edge of new methodologies. That's a key component in CRM, which legitimate, respected and well-recognized researchers employ.

MR is more fun today than at any time in the past 25 years IMHO. I have difficulty imagining a return to the paper&pencil, randomization-straws-in-a-cup process. New tools mean more creative ways to reach those heretofore unreachable or reluctant populations. I'm excited just thinking about how cool our MR world is with MROCs, BBs, online IDIs, web surveys, and panels. Oh, and social media resources? Yum. It's like having the big Godiva box of research - all of those delicious choices!

- Susan Saurage-Altenloh 01/06/2010