Page 1 of 2
The Clientside Market Researcher, Written by Joanne Lewis from DJS Research Ltd
Jo Lewis has spent seven years working on the clientside as a Senior Market Research Executive in the private sector for an International Publisher/Event and Conference Organiser and in a wider research related role as a Marketing Analyst in the semi-public sector for a Housing Association.
What a Clientside Researcher Is
'Clientside' is where market research specialists are employed by companies and organisations to undertake often minimal quantities of research in-house whilst mostly, (dependant on budget) commissioning external research agencies to implement their research projects.
Activities of a clientside researcher would generally include:
· communicating with other staff in the organisation to identify research requirements and ensure clear aims and objectives of research are set;
· preparing briefs and contacting agencies;
· deciding which tenders to accept and commissioning research;
· liaising with the commissioned agencies to identify and solve problems that arise in the research and ensuring that the findings are delivered to the set time scale;
· delivering findings to in-house audiences.
In the wider Marketing Analyst role you would also be expected to generally support development strategies through effective analysis, profiling and forecasting of markets and customer groups using reliable secondary data sources.
The scope of core research studies could include the following:
· New product or service development research
· Customer satisfaction research
· Lapsed customer research
· Employee satisfaction surveys
Obviously this list is not exhaustive and every individual organisation will have ad-hoc projects in addition to these.
The Daily Role
A typical day would vary depending obviously on the size of the market research department varying from one employee upwards! My experiences span both a small market research department (four employees) and also being a solitary researcher based within a Marketing department. Therefore, the range of functions have varied from offering the equivalent of a full service research agency (i.e. survey design, questionnaire design, fieldwork, data processing, analysis, interpretation and presenting findings) to a more hands-off role where many or all of these functions are outsourced.
Regardless of department size, there are similarities amongst clientside roles, the main ones being a requirement for an all round ability in market research techniques coupled with a willingness to co-ordinate and communicate with various in-house departments such as IT, Marketing and Sales. Unlike many agency researchers, on the clientside you are less likely to specialise in either qualitative or quantitative research, clientside research demands both skills and due to sometimes limited resources it is vital that you are proficient in both areas.
Similarities exist in comparison with research agency peers. As with the agency side, inevitably you have to manage a number of projects simultaneously. Where clientside differs, however, is in that the pace is generally slightly more relaxed as its yourself and your internal clients dictating the deadlines which must be adhered to as opposed to an external client who would be less sympathetic to delays experienced in-house.
Your presence is generally required at in-house meetings where your input is expected with regards to anything from the development of new products or services to gaining feedback for existing products or services. The clientside researcher is expected to take a holistic view of the organisation utilising information gleaned from previous research studies and your overall knowledge of the market.
Similarly, individuals throughout the organisation are likely to approach you as an information resource to assist them with their enquiries. You may also take it upon yourself to circulate excerpts from recently published independent research relevant to your industry, which may be of interest to senior management.
One very important aspect of the clientside role within an organisation is ensuring that any research conducted is fed back to the relevant departments. For example, if a particular product is highly praised amongst end users with a large proportion saying they would purchase it again, arming the sales force with this information benefits them making their job easier. On the other hand, if satisfaction levels for a product or service are low, then making this information available will assist in prioritising resources. Feedback could take the form of your presence at a meeting, formal presentation/report or newsletter/e-bulletin.
No matter how hard you try to promote a central research service, you’ll always come across individuals who’ll want to flaunt their hidden talent for questionnaire design (you generally only discover the study accidentally when questionnaires are incorrectly returned to yourself!). As I worked for a large organisation, it was impossible to police all potential research activity and therefore to lessen the damage, I promoted an advisory service to try to encourage individuals to consult with me prior to undertaking any market research activities of their own.
Throughout the day, your main role is effectively communicating with all parties (in-house and external agencies) to ensure you are fully appraised of the current status of all on-going projects.