Mariëtte Brethouwer Name: Mariëtte Brethouwer
Nationality: Dutch
University: VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Title of course/programme: International Master: Culture, Organization and Management

How do you see the market research industry evolving and how can you contribute to it?

I see a couple of global trends, such as more focus on online research and more attention for people and their motivations instead of facts and figures. The ‘information explosion’ of today emphasises the need for the industry to fulfil both the research and the consultancy role; being able to interpret and implement research outcomes and to translate this for the customer; think about future scenario’s thinking and storytelling, sense making.

I would like to elaborate on two trends that I see, related to my own areas of interest:

  1. Empathic design; identify latent customer needs, analyzing motivations, life-style, behaviour. Finding new ways to understand the customer and its consumer behaviour through emotions. Unilever is a good example of using this market research technique; a researcher stays with a family for 24 hours, as being part of the family, to observe how brands and products are being used and evaluated. This is how Unilever developed a new product for men; a shampoo not only to wash their hair but also their whole body, as this is apparently what men do.

  2. The second trend that I see and think is relevant is more attention for a combination of methods; triangulation. The multicultural, global market has changed the scope of research panels, cultural diversity in countries demands different ways of research as not every target group can be reached in the same way, e.g. telephone, online or face to face. We can call this blending, a diverse panel with a richness of diversity in people asks for different ways of research.

What are in your opinion the necessary skills for market researchers in the present environment?

These trends ask for other skills, compared to 20 years ago. Operating more from an anthropologic perspective, researchers need to be able to analyze and understand the material coming from research, it is more important to acquire insights and being able to inspire the client.

Researchers need to be able to see the whole picture, to really understand the culture of a client organization, to put research output in perspective. More attention for the environment of the organization is needed; stakeholder management and chain management becomes more important. Although figures and facts remain important, researchers need to be able to think out of the box and show their creativity.

Researchers need to gain a position in the boardrooms, being able to take position and don’t be afraid to give their specialist opinion.

Finally, researchers need to be honest. For example, they should not try to make a telecom operator or energy company ‘green’, just because having a ‘green image’ is a trend. Honest, reliable marketing research needs to provide insights in the demands and wishes of the customers of these kinds of organizations.

How do you see your career unfolding and what are your aspirations?

This September, I am starting my final year of the International Master programme Culture, Organization and Management at the VU University of Amsterdam. This upcoming year will be entirely focussed on research in the field of corporate sustainability. How do profit and non profit organizations position their brand and their identity in a responsible and legitimate way? I’m fascinated by cultures, both nationalities as well as organizational culture. For me, observing people in their daily working life is very interesting. Hopefully, my career will develop towards a position in the field of organizational research and consultancy. My ambition is to work for a non profit organization or NGO as Unicef or Amnesty International, as they constantly need to balance between their moral and ethical obligations as well as to be financially healthy and position themselves as a strong brand. Ultimately, I would like to work as a consultant in the non profit sector; advice organizations in change programmes, fusions, reorganizations, conflict situations etc.


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