Why market researchers can never be marketers

[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]Why do people share their opinions with market researchers?

Market researchers are Guardians. We look out for the rights of our research participants. Whether participants know they are part of the research (e.g., observational research), whether participants know what their rights are, and whether participants have misunderstood what their rights are, market researchers are expected to know those rights and uphold them.

Market researchers are Advocates. We speak out when we fear that rights are being infringed. We work towards creating and building rights so that all research participants are treated fairly and respectfully.

Market researchers provide Sanctuary. Research participants know they can share their true feelings, whether hateful, loving or disinterested, and know there will be no backlash, negative consequences, loss of privacy, lack of respect or any other inappropriate interactions. They are safe to speak freely within our space.

Market researchers do not Sell and do not Market. There is no sanctuary if participants feel they will be targeted based on their opinions. Sugging (selling under the guise of research) and mugging (marketing under the guise of research) tear down the walls of the sanctuary. And once torn down, building them back up is a monstrous task.

These safeguards of guardianship, advocacy, and sanctuary have resulted in market researchers being given special legal rights to interact with consumers in ways no other professions can.

I don’t doubt that some market researchers could be excellent marketers. If that’s the path that brings you joy, then by all means seek it out. But to bring the worlds of marketing and market research closer together, for admittedly they are already very close, is very scary.

Thanks to a non-twitter user for unknowingly inspiring this post.

13 responses

  1. I think you have also answered a valid question – why do marketers NEED market researchers.

  2. Researchers protect the rights of participants. Ensuring they don’t get marketed to and can be honest in their responses. I can agree with that. Good for us!

    But then the question is, why do we still treat them with such distain? We rarely if ever get back to them with the results of research (actual market results, not just x% of you were male, etc etc). We give them the most mind numbing 40 question surveys imaginable using the excuse of remaining objective. To top it off, we pay them an absolute pittance for their time (though technically, if we did our job right, we wouldn’t have to pay them at all).

    So, as much as I rate your passion and the thought put into the post…I tend to think it puts us on a pedestal that maybe we’re yet to deserve 🙂

    1. Can’t disagree. The pedestal is there for everyone to strive for. Some people strive more than others. Some don’t care about the pedestal. I do care about the pedestal.

  3. I LOVE this post Annie!
    And I agree with Matt; this topic can’t be emphasised enough. Particularly in the mish-mashed context of some of the newer “market research” methodologies.

  4. I tend to wear both hats depending on the needs of the client.

  5. Great post on a topic that can’t be emphasized enough… Market researchers need to protect the aspects of the profession you noted in your post, which is only going to get more and more difficult with new ways of researching and interacting with participants through social media.

  6. The Fact that Market Research and Marketers are so close together but so distant is an interesting subject. Thnx for the post!

  7. If you are talking about using market research to sale products, I totally agree with you. This is a no no. However, nothing prevent market researcher of being marketers by participating in the development of actionable marketing plans based on research insights. Many stop at reporting data and insights and don’t go further to provide recommendations on how specific insights can be expressed in sales strategies tactics or advertising campaigns, which is often at the root of why MR budgets are the first to get cut in hard times and many researchers have difficulties proving their value to the organization. Researchers would gain a lot by learning more about marketing and how to become truly marketers, which is NOT selling under the disguise of research.

    1. I don’t understand why researchers need to also be marketers. Everyone has a skill set and mine includes research. It does not include an in depth understanding of all marketing principles, the clients particular strategies, or the brand of every client I work with. Certainly researchers need to be familiar with marketing but trying to excel at everything doesn’t work for me.

  8. Well said and passionate! Thank you for your clear vision of our missions.

  9. Thanks Annie, another awesome post. On the flip side I know a few marketeers who would say they are guardians of consumer interest, advocates of the customer and provide sanctuary for people’s views on their brand.

    I guess we need to think about why marketers can never be market researchers? Because I feels like a lot more people who aren’t market researchers are doing market research. I dunno, what does everyone else think?

    1. Definitely good points there. I can see marketers taking that viewpoint, but it’s certainly not one that works for me.

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