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Newsflash: You are about to be Leapfrogged

Having been in the market research profession for 30 years, you can be sure that I love what I do. One of the best parts? I meet lots of people, like myself, who crave the mental stimulation of finding patterns, who savor the moment of discovering that golden nugget. People who love to dive into a deep pile of messy data (whether quant or qual), to find that delicious “aha.”

But if you have been in the biz for more than 10 years, I have a newsflash.

We are about to be leapfrogged.

The new generation of “market researchers”, “insights analysts”, or “flavor-of-the-day-substitute-job-titles” have 2 attributes that will allow them to leapfrog us—unless we act.

  1. They are data source agnostic. Give them data from surveys, social media, CRM systems, web clicks, syndicated sources—they don’t care. Data is data. They will merge, mix and match, and otherwise use. Get over the need for perfect demographic associations.  Deal with the limitations of mixing data sources. They have.
  2. They use newer tools. Tableau, R, Python are the biggies. If you do quant, get on board. Soon.

As an aside, in a recent survey of Research Rockstar students, I tested 20+ new course topics for 2017.  One of the “losers” was a class on “Intro to R.” So I did some IDIs, and found out: a lot of market researchers have never heard of R.  So simply put: R is an open source version of SPSS.  That’s a gross generalization, but it makes the point. BUT unlike SPSS, R has an energized community of people developing all sorts of modules. Data visualization, latent class analysis, text analytics and many, many more.  So, yeah. This is one of those cases where you need it, you just don’t know it yet. And I want all researchers to get future-proofed. So damn it, I am doing it. Research Rockstar will offer an Intro to R class in 2017. Stay tuned for details.

This is an exciting time in the research field. New tools, new skills, new colleagues. Even a new professional association.  Do I, as a “classic” Research Rockstar, need new skills? Yup.  But guess what? That’s actually fairly superficial.  My knowledge of project management, sampling, statistics, qual methods, quant methods, consumer behavior and various research applications, are very valuable. So let’s not get leapfrogged—let’s jump in.


Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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