Such a great catch up with Research Manager Chloë Bartlem! The MRS Young Researcher of the year 2020 finalist had some superb tips for new researchers on how to stand out. She also claims that every young researcher should have three qualities; curiosity, attention to detail & empathy. She also speaks passionately about diversity and how that considering we speak to a diverse range of consumers, there really should be more diversity in the market research workforce.
Hi Chloë, so great to catch up, lets crack on shall we? So, how did you get into the industry? Take us through how you got to this point?
Thanks James, great to catch up! So like many people, market research was an industry I never really knew existed! I studied psychology at university and have always been interested in human behaviour. I was never really exposed to consumer psychology as part of my degree but a lot of my friends studied things like marketing and business which I always found really interesting. After graduating and having the panic of ‘what am I going to do for the rest of my life’ I started looking into options that focused on consumer psychology and came across ad planning. I won a place at a Manchester based ad agency to take part in their ‘summer school’ and then went on to secure a grad job at a WPP media agency. At this point, I STILL didn’t know that market research agencies existed. I realised quite quickly that media planning wasn’t the career for me – I wanted to get beneath the answers, not just work with the data that was being given to me. I eventually discovered market research through an advertised vacancy on the Indeed job search website. I got my first job at Verve and then moved to Razor where I’ve been for the last 3 years!
So come on, if you are allowed to say, what is the most interesting / crazy / fun project you’ve ever worked on?
Oooo I have a couple! When I first joined Razor at the start of 2018, we conducted a self-funded study that looked into how girls are growing up in today’s world. We explored the pressures they face day to day growing up in a constantly ‘on’ digital universe and then presented our findings to media owners at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield. More recently we’ve been exploring audio habits of younger listeners and what the shifting needs might be during lockdown. I’m a huge music and radio fan so that’s probably been my favourite project to date!
And what’s one thing you didn’t expect when starting out in market research?
I wasn’t expecting to meet so many likeminded people.
Most of my best friends I’ve met through the industry and one of them I now live with.
Travel is also a big bonus that I wasn’t expecting – a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to travel to the States for a beer project which was super interesting but also a lot of fun!
BIG question – how much difference can you actually make in research?
It’s always exciting when I see a product on the shelf or an advert on TV that I’ve had some sort of influence on!
In saying that, I think one of the biggest challenges of being agency side is that you often hand the research back to the client team and so don’t have full visibility of what’s happened as a result of your research.
I think this is probably a frustration for a lot of people but it’s always great when clients do take the time to involve you in their discussions at the end of a debrief so you have chance to hear about what impact your research will have in the business.
How can you make yourself stand out when starting out in market research?
If you’re coming to the industry fresh out of university, use your age to your advantage.
Many clients want to develop their understanding of Gen Z and you’ll have a greater understanding of your age group than a lot of other researchers!
It’s always a good idea to develop a passion point. Whether this be youth trends, nutrition, Photoshop etc.. you can become the specialist in that area and the go to person within your agency. Even if it’s a passion outside of market research, it’s worth thinking about ways this can be transferred. My flat mate and I started our own podcast over lockdown and from the skills I learnt, I went on to develop a podcast for my own agency all about how Gen Z were navigating early lockdown
Finally, be nice, be keen to learn and be proactive. People will always want to work with nice people, not people that are hard work.
And what are 3 qualities you think every great young researcher needs or should aim to have?
- Curiosity: you should always be asking ‘why’. Don’t ever be scared of looking stupid!
- Attention to detail: it’s really important to nail these skills early on – you’ll need this for everything!
- Empathy: if you’re a quallie, you’re going to need consumers to open up to you. You’ll need to build rapid rapport and maybe ask some tricky questions. Empathy is essential and will also serve you well for your client management and team work skills.
Do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to say thanks or give a shout out to?
Chloe Fowler – Chloe is one of the best people I know on a professional and personal level. I was lucky enough to work with her and be hired by her at Razor. Not only is she incredibly inspiring but no matter what the project is, she makes work fun. She’s given me some amazing advice and great platforms that have hugely helped with my career development. Thank you, Chloe!
If you could, what would you change about the market research industry?
I think people outside of the industry often have a very different perception of it – they often assume that we stand in the street with clipboards! Advertising and marketing tend to be viewed as the hot, vibrant industries whereas market research is more often than not seen as old fashioned. I’d love to see that change!
I think there is still room for more diversity in market research. It tends to be a particular class that work in our industry and I’d love to see more people from different walks of life and more opportunities for apprenticeships. We speak to a diverse range of consumers and our workforce should be representative of that.
Top tips for getting through lockdown:
I’ve started using Gousto which I’ve LOVED! I’ve also been watching lots of great TV (I’d recommend The Serpent on BBC for anyone that hasn’t watched it yet) Other than that, lots of gin, red wine and Aperol.
Final tips for younger researchers?
It’s definitely worth attending courses where you can meet other young researchers. You’ll be able to learn about their agency and the different ways that we all work. Young Disruptor events are also a great way to meet other young researchers in an informal setting.
Thanks, Chloë, you’ve basically just outlined the ‘MRX new joiners survival manual’. This is going to be amazing and so helpful to young researchers and those considering a career in research.