How do you see the market research industry evolving and how can you contribute to it?
Marketing research is still a relatively new and growing industry in Asia, especially compared to North America and Western Europe - I think that there is lots of potential in Asia…. There are plenty of unexplored areas, and I’m someone who’s very inquisitive, so I’m very excited about exploring unchartered territory when I graduate and enter the market research industry.
Also, new techniques are becoming available and changing the way Market Research is conducted, and I feel that there also many new topics, new industries that are emerging that have yet to be thoroughly researched, perhaps green marketing can be an example. I believe that there are probably even more aspects of human behavior that we can probe into, more indirect methods to elicit responses, or more methods to study/observe behaviour. On this, I am personally very interested in the workings of semiotics and the potential for this market research technique.
I hope to also be able to contribute now by helping firms discover insights – like, right now I am conducting some market research for a friend’s newly-opened Brazilian restaurant in Singapore. The research is to help her with market segmentation and I’m also hoping to find out what customers expect, or more importantly, want in a brazilian restaurant, so that I can make recommendations about how she can decorate her restaurant or how she can improve on the food, service and ambience. I hope that this will give me real-world experience into market research, so that I can be more of an asset to the Market research world when I finally enter it after graduation. I’d like to take into the market research world, not just the theories I’ve learnt in school from classes like consumer behaviour and psychology, but also personal experiences.
Also, as I’ve mentioned, market research is still comparatively new in Asia, and there is a lack of understanding of what market research can do or is about, but firms are now discovering that market research is extremely important, the problem then is that there are not many qualified market researchers out there. I hope to join this pool of what you may call pioneering market researchers in Asia, to bring to the table my experiences of growing up in Asia, to develop the market research industry and to move it forward, especially in this region!
What are in your opinion the necessary skills for market researchers in the present environment?
Besides an understanding of the basic marketing research process, the tools and techniques involved such as knowing how to design a questionnaire, or the use of SPSS, I believe market researchers in the present environment really need to have strong communication skills and relationship managing skills. One trend in the present environment is that people nowadays are getting increasingly skeptical about marketing and market researchers - for example, a course that I’m currently taking looked at a case study that mentioned how the best way to market something nowadays is to in fact, hide your marketing, especially with youths. So I feel that the best way to elicit answers is to able to relate to and communicate well with your consumer, so that you can ask the right questions, be able to probe deeper for better insights, and most importantly, get useful and honest answers to arrive at that groundbreaking final conclusion that helps you to make accurate recommendations.
Having been a student counselor and then a student ambassador at SMU, I find that my school life has revolved around meeting people and learning to relate to them in order to, for example, instil school pride. As an ambassador, I have had to bring people such as the Turkish ambassador, around my university campus, and explain to them what my school means to me and what my passion is. Also, the times that I have been an emcee, such as at my school’s rock concerts or arts events, has made me someone not shy around big crowds, and someone who loves public speaking. I hope therefore, that these traits and experiences of mine can help me to contribute to the conference and the industry!
On another note, I believe that market researchers today need to have international experience or an interest in the cultures of different countries. Due to globalization, different cultures today are affecting one another, and no one culture or sub-culture can be defined narrowly anymore. To be able to relate to their consumers, I think that market researchers need to understand where their consumers are coming from when they say something, especially when their consumers are of a different culture. This is so that they can probe deeper and get more valuable insights. To do this too, I think market researchers need to be creative as well, in thinking of different ways to gain insight and in adapting to situations.
How do you see your career unfolding and what are your aspirations?
I see myself as a qualitative market researcher, because of my interest in person to person interactions, as well as my love for discovering insights and asking questions. I’m very interested in being a cool hunter, because I feel that youths are a very dynamic consumer segment with tremendous potential - the way youth culture changes over time intrigues me – I’d like the chance to, through my career, demystify this segment as much as possible.
I’m also looking forward to dealing with real world issues in my career, and I’d like to perhaps experiment with different market research techniques in the practical world. I hope to learn as much as possible along the way, and through all this learning and experimenting, I wish to finally break new ground in the market research industry. Finally, I aspire to eventually do a master’s in research some years from now.