If you are in market research (and if you are reading this, I am guessing you are), you may have noticed something about market research job titles.

They are diverse.

It wasn’t always this way. Twenty years ago, if you were in this field you likely had a job title that contained one of these key phrases: Market Research, Marketing Research, or even the generic “Research.” These key phrases appeared in combination with “analyst”, “manager”, or “director” seniority indictors. Thus, there were a lot of “Market Research Analysts”, “Marketing Research Managers” and “Research Directors” in the 1980s and 1990s.

But that was also a time when 90% of primary market research project were surveys, in-depth interviews (IDIS), or focus groups. And back then, corporate researchers were often focused on secondary data and outsourcing primary research to full-service market research firms. Things have changed!

As our profession has expanded its breath of methods and tools, so has its job titles. Today, market research job titles are quite diverse. Indeed, all the following key phrases are commonly used in our profession’s job titles:

Phrases in Market Research Job Titles

  • Brand Insights
  • Business Intelligence
  • Category Insights
  • Consumer Insights
  • Customer Experience (CX)
  • Customer Insights
  • Market Research
  • Market Intelligence
  • Marketing Research
  • Shopper Insights
  • Strategic Insights

This fragmentation has both good news and bad news ramifications.

The good news: these titles also reflect recognition that the researcher’s role now includes strategic impact. “Insights” and “Intelligence” are powerful words that convey that we aren’t just charged with collecting data—but with synthesizing it and connecting it to business-driving strategies.

The fragmentation also suggests more career path options. Job titles that now convey synthesis and strategy development are also ones that offer more senior-level visibility. And more collaboration with different functional areas. All great news for today’s “market research” professionals!

The not-so-good news: job hunting can be confusing. I routinely see job openings that are nearly identical—but one might be seeking a “Consumer insights manager” and another a “Market intelligence manager.”

Let’s consider an example. Read the following description for an actual job opening, and then pick which job title you think it had.

Job responsibilities:

  • Collect data on customers, competitors and market place, and consolidate information into actionable insights, reports and presentations
  • Understand business objectives and insight needs, collect and interpret complex data, formulate reports and deliver actionable recommendations
  • Design, implement and analyze custom research studies to discover prospective customers’ preferences
  • Provide competitive analysis on various companies’ market offerings, identify market and industry trends, pricing/business models, sales and methods of operation
  • Act as the voice of the customer across all touch points in the division

Which do you think it is advertised as?

  1. Customer Insights and Analytics Manager
  2. Market Intelligence Manager
  3. Market Research and Insights Manager

The correct answer is A. But honestly, all three job titles would have fit the scope.

This means that if you are job hunting, you can’t just search for 2 or 3 job titles. You must look at many titles, and really hunt for the skills and responsibilities that align with your interests. It’s a lot messier than it used to be.

Your Job Title, Your Career Path

The evolution of market research job titles is part of a larger shift: how companies organize their previously siloed customer and market-related data functions. I’ll be speaking about this at The Quirk’s Event in Irvine California, The Most Significant Change in 2018: New Organizational Structures, January 31st at 10 AM (Room 3).

For more on market research job titles, check out the video I made below:

 

Kathryn Korostoff

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Kathryn Korostoff

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