The Sociologist as Market Researcher

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The nature of market research and potential roles for sociologists as market researchers, what that entails, etc.

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Market Research Opportunities For Sociological Practitioners : 

Market Research Opportunities For Sociological Practitioners Presented to the Sociological Practice Association Meetings 2004 Roger A. Straus, Ph.D. © 2009 Roger A. Straus

We Are The Over-Educated and Under-Qualified : 

We Are The Over-Educated and Under-Qualified It would be nice to be an academic, or to have been an academic but… We live in a society where putting together “sociologist” and “useful” is generally considered an oxymoron Many graduate and find a place in the work world, essentially despite being sociologists Still no “job wanted” (or even executive recruiter) positions asking for a good sociologist Let me tell you about a large and viable industry for which our perspective and our methodological competencies are an excellent fit… © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Developing Market Intelligence: Market/Marketing Research : 

Developing Market Intelligence: Market/Marketing Research ROI/MAXIMIZE THE BUSINESS SECONDARY DATA The Purpose Of Market Intelligence Is To Help Marketers Make The Smartest Business Decisions Possible © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Different Methodologies Enable You To Understand Different Parts Of The Puzzle : 

Different Methodologies Enable You To Understand Different Parts Of The Puzzle Qualitative (e.g., intensive interviews, groups, naturalistic analysis) Understanding/insight/discovery “Hows” and “Whys” Big Picture/Getting the “lay of the land” Specialized methods using feedback to optimize strategies, tactics, etc. Quantitative (e.g., surveys, inferential and descriptive statistical analysis, advanced analytics) Modeling/forecasting market behavior Testing hypotheses about market drivers, behaviors Measuring and sizing “whats,” including market segments What people are likely to do vs. what they say they will do Generalizable findings you can count on, literally There is a need and a place for both © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Applying “Marketing Science” Is An Art : 

Applying “Marketing Science” Is An Art Systematic analysis of intelligence needs/priorities at each stage of product life cycle Identifying, sequencing research steps to address those needs, and wants. Fit them into the realities of time and resources What studies, when? What methodologies? Designing, executing and analyzing the research Turning “findings” into meaningful learnings and actionable recommendations “So what?” What to do about it? How to optimize next steps within the realities of resources and marketplace? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Primary Vs. Secondary Research, Custom Vs. Syndicated : 

Primary Vs. Secondary Research, Custom Vs. Syndicated Primary research involves customers, decision makers, influencers… Secondary research captures, integrates and reports data “Point of Sale” -- UPC data through pharmacy data Other –e.g., MDs key prescriptions into PDAs Some do comprehensive market analyses “Custom” means that you go out and collect/analyze data for a specific project and customer Different levels, from “off the shelf” through complex ad hoc designs “Syndicated” means you provide reports to a group of clients, who typically share the cost (so that the Nth buy in is sheer profit) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Two Sides Of Market/Marketing Research : 

Two Sides Of Market/Marketing Research “In House” Most firms do little or no primary research, purchase secondary data Researchers develop research programs, get them funded, manage and integrate the research, report to internal clients, etc. “Supplier” side Large, global firms to boutiques and independents Independent consultants now under pressure from bean-counters and vendor contracts © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Qualitative Methods Are HUGE : 

Qualitative Methods Are HUGE Some specialize in qualitative methods Organizations exist, such as QRCA Application goes back to Robert Merton and the Columbia School (“The Focused Interview”) Essentially the same as what is taught in sociology programs, with some additions IDIs (Intensive depth interviewing) TDIs (Telephone depth interviewing) GDIs (Group Depth Interviews) or “Focus Groups” Ethnographic & Participant Observation projects Excellence exists, but analysis tends to be more informal than we are taught (sociologists are ahead of the curve) Sometimes reports are mostly verbatims A lot of “analyticus interruptus” © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Quantitative Is Perhaps Even Huger : 

Quantitative Is Perhaps Even Huger Survey researchers’ paradise Projects can run into the millions of dollars Data collection ranges from in-person, CATI/phone, to web and specialized input devices from phone keypads to hand-held units One-off and tracking studies Analysis and methodology runs the gamut Classical univariate Lots and lots of cross tabs Advanced Analytics Regressions Trade-offs (conjoint, choice, hybrid) Modeling/simulation Rasch models Almost anything in AJS is used by somebody somewhere © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Examples Of Methodologies : 

Examples Of Methodologies Qualitative New Product Opportunity Knowledge/Attitudes/Practices Franchise Protection Portfolio Management Brand Personality Product Positioning Message Development Creative Concept Development Detail Aid Evaluation and Testing Name, Trademark and Logo Testing Competitor Assessment War Gaming Quantitative Choice Models Market Segmentation Market Landscape Techniques Positioning Pricing TURF Product Tracking A&U/ATU/AAU Research New Product Forecasting Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction © 2009 Roger A. Straus

A Key Difference From Academic Research Is PRAGMATISM : 

A Key Difference From Academic Research Is PRAGMATISM Unlike academic research There is a specific set of business issues to be resolved You need to get to the point Many will not care about anything except direct answers to their questions Focus on the central tendency and throw out interesting stuff like anomalies Do it in the client’s language, within their universe of discourse, at their level Tell the client “so what” Need to engage in a lot of client/audience management And DO IT FAST (nasty deadlines are the rule) Almost nobody pays you to think about something or to explore all sides of an issue, they want timely answers to marketing questions, actionable recommendations But they will pay for it… Sorry folks, but that’s how it is © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Slide 12: 

© 2009 Roger A. Straus

It Can Be Stimulating, Financially Rewarding, A Lot Of Fun, But Also High Pressure, High Stress : 

It Can Be Stimulating, Financially Rewarding, A Lot Of Fun, But Also High Pressure, High Stress © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Slide 14: 

GfK V2 LLC 2 What’s In It For Us? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

So Where Can A Sociologist Fit In? : 

So Where Can A Sociologist Fit In? We are usually trained to be thinkers, not doers (it is a doctorate in philosophy after all…) We may have invented the underlying methodologies but the others guys have gotten in there and dominate the field Psychologists, now MBAs, even some anthropologists 3 out of 43 researchers in my company are sociologists BUT who is better trained in Figuring out how (social) things work? Naturalistic field research/qualitative analysis? Survey research/advanced analytics? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

It Would Be Great If This Were Part of Our Curricula : 

It Would Be Great If This Were Part of Our Curricula How to apply concept and method to real world situations How to adopt methods to answering concrete questions Understanding the business world and specific business worlds How to get along with business types and other “normals” How to operate within and to deal with business organizations How to translate high-falutin’ sociologese into plain talk Understanding how to adapt our “pure” methodologies into applied actions How to translate findings into learnings and actionable recommendations How to do research in business and other applied settings How to deal with time and resource constraints Understanding how to find and keep a professional job ETC… © 2009 Roger A. Straus

It’s Not, So We Have To Fake It : 

It’s Not, So We Have To Fake It Bring back the co-op! (Thank you Arthur Morgan) Inventory your skills and proclivities What are you willing to do? True leftist, pure clinical? Seek elsewhere. 9-5er? Ditto. How much travel, worktime are you willing to live with? Qual, quant or hybrid? Qualitative tends to require more travel, shorter time frames Qualitative tends to be more detail intensive, requires more specific skills How entrepeneurial are you/can you stand to be? What markets/categories interest you (or do you know a lot about)? What relevant experience and accomplishments do you have? Develop a resume that says “I am (or can be) applied” Leave the ideology at home, in your heart or head © 2009 Roger A. Straus

ACT! : 

ACT! “The Way To Be Changed Is Act Changed” (Moi) Network, search – all the usual job-hunting stuff Include on-line (Monster.com, etc.) Check the ASA Employment Bulletin Consider informational interviews Look at CASRO and industry listings for possibilities Quantitative experts/stats guys have an upper hand High demand Few have the skills Need less market specific than methodological Qualitative types also wanted More likely on supplier side Check Quirks, etc. Possibly go to local QRCA meetings © 2009 Roger A. Straus

A Few Hints For Avoiding Potholes : 

A Few Hints For Avoiding Potholes Be prepared to start near the bottom and work your way up Having not done precisely that before is always an impediment But there is upward mobility We tend to be quick learners, quick studies Be real Match yourself to your environment Beware of” Aggressive not necessarily bad if it is clear you are willing to play within the system Remember you’re not in college any more Results, getting the work done on time, on spec, competence, communication and form (e.g., spelling, following models) count Getting along also counts, very very very highly No brownie points for being smart Avoid getting branded “too smart” or “academic” (unless you are a real quantitative expert) Don’t forget to live your life A lot of companies will eat you alive, colonize your mind, monopolize your time…. Workaholism is rarely discouraged—but don’t burn yourself out, wreck your relationships, etc. Have fun… or don’t. (See if I care, or anyone else does!) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

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