The many ways research finds us

You know how it is when you hear a new word for the first time or learn an actor’s name and then suddenly, you’re hearing it or seeing it at every turn? Working in marketing research has had that effect on me. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would go on to write 20 or so marketing research-related articles and almost 50 blogs by the time I turned 30, I would’ve said, “What’s marketing research?”

Now, it’s everywhere I look. Most recently, my colleague Joe Rydholm and I were talking about our personal involvement in interest-specific panels. I was just invited to join one for expectant mothers through BabyCenter. Joe said he isn’t sure what his niche would be but that fantasy sports wouldn’t be a bad option.

In the true spirit of “once you’re thinking about it, it’s everywhere,” that afternoon I received a private message from a stranger on an online forum I’m a member of, inviting me to participate in a research study she’s conducting about fantasy sports. She was having trouble filling her female quota and noticed that, at some point in my tenure on the forum, I mentioned that it’s a hobby of mine.

The survey was hosted on a Qualtrics platform and I was even invited to participate in a follow-up phone interview, which I agreed to.

To be honest, before gaining some experience in MR, I probably wouldn’t have taken time out of my day to take the survey, let alone volunteer for the follow-up interview. Before, I imagined the research process to be something like the neglected suggestion box Michael Scott and friends rifled through on an episode of The Office. Now that I know how eager companies are to hear from consumers and how much consideration (most companies) give the feedback, I’m excited to get involved!

Working in MR has shown me how research contributes to the bigger cultural picture and helps dictate what products are created and marketed to us. I only wish I had realized sooner the microphone research was offering me and I like to think that, had I known how much companies and brands rely on research to move forward, I would’ve been more receptive.

It never ceases to amaze me how much more aware I am of the invitation to stay on the line after calling customer service, to take a satisfaction survey when I visit a Web site or to read the feedback from a local town hall-style focus group in the newspaper. Now that I know what I’m looking for, it’s everywhere.

So, I took the fantasy sports survey at work – all in the name of blogging research, right?! – and I was happy to help a researcher in need while playing the role of respondent.

How has research made itself evident in your daily life? How has it changed your behavior? Your perspective? How can we be more open with the general population about the research process to convince them that it matters?

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