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As we curate best practices across industries and disciplines from practitioners in Market Research all over the globe, we’d decided to spotlight a few notables from the trenches.
Meet Paul Long, here’s what he’s shared with us:
Paul Long is Manager of Market Research at Charter Professional Accountants of Canada, the member organization for Canada’s professional accountants. He previously worked as a Research Consultant for a market research company, and as a Consumer Insights Manager for a Canadian grocery retailer. Paul tweets at @paul_long and is an occasional blogger at www.paullong.ca.
What do you do and how did you get started?
I currently work as market research manager for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). In my role, I work on both qualitative and quantitative projects. Much of the research is directly with CPAs. Some examples include the CPA Canada Business Monitor, which asks CPAs in executive roles with Canadian companies to give their opinions on economic trends. We also do a lot of financial literacy work with the public.This has included survey work addressing issues such as debt management, retirement savings and, most recently, summer spending. CPA Canada’s research assists our organization in determining ways it can continue to play an active role in helping Canadians learn more about personal finances.
My first job in market research was as a part-time telephone interviewer for a market research company while I was in graduate school. After that I became a phone room supervisor. Once I finished my studies, I started looking for research jobs, eventually working at a market research company, and after that, in the customer insights department for a Canadian grocery retailer.
What interested you about MR?
I was first aware of market research because of my interest in politics, and following political polls and watching pundits on television. It didn’t occur to me until later that the big research companies that were conducting political polls were also conducting research on breakfast cereals and car preferences.
How do you feel the industry is changing?
There are so many different ways that the industry is changing! Gamification, drops in response rates, growth in mobile research are just a few. To concentrate on one element, as a client-side researcher I will focus on the growth in DIY research. Declining research budgets seems to be a common trend these days in many client-side research departments. The challenge for client-side researchers is to efficiently allocate their departmental budgets so that they outsource what is clearly outside of their level of expertise, and maximize efficiency in the work they conduct internally.
This has offered a great opportunity for suppliers providing advanced but easy to use out of the box applications for corporate researchers to position themselves in a niche area. At the same time, full service companies are having to compete for a piece of a smaller pie. Consolidation among research companies has been going on for quite a few years, and it will likely continue.
What is your best tip for researchers in the trenches to become a catalyst for impact?
Again, from a client-side researcher perspective, I would say to other client-side researchers to provide value to your internal clients — explain what the data means, not just what the numbers are.
What’s one book you think we should read?
While it is not specially a market research book, I would recommend Groundswell, by Josh Bernhoff of Forrester Research and Charlene Li of Altimeter. One of the main themes of the book is that in a Web 2.0 world companies no longer have control of their brand, because of the conversations on social media. Due to this they need to take part in the conversations online, and neither ignore it nor try to suppress it.
I think one can draw a parallel with market research. It has been changing rapidly for maybe the past 15 years or so. In much the same way ignoring the changes that have taken place in market research methods, and ignoring newer methods is not helpful to anyone.
What Tech should we keep an eye on?
I’m curious about wearable technology, Google Glass or watches with similar applications as smartphones. Will some wearable device at some point in the future have a mainstream research application? It would appear unlikely, but mobile phones wouldn’t have appeared to be a good candidate for research devices before smartphones dominated the space, so who knows?
In three different years, I have taken part in a two-day 120 mile bicycle ride for charity — from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
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