Liz Norman writes - As a result of the study ENI have been doing with Chime, into market research as a career, I was asked to take part in a debate at ESOMAR congress  on whether  ‘the industry is guilty of failing to articulate it’s strengths to potential entrants’.  Presented as a court case we even had a judge with a wig and gown.  Despite the fact our own study shows that our industry is guilty; 53% of recent entrants fell into the industry with almost no knowledge of what is involved, someone had to be a defence witness and I foolishly volunteered.  Needless to say we didn’t win!
Whilst I can understand why no one wanted to speak for the defence, I think there are individual pockets of hope.  More and more agencies are taking on interns, and many have stated to me that visiting Universities before recruiting, quantifiably improves the quality of those that apply.  ESOMAR and the MRS have individual initiatives with which we are involved (keep an eye on the changing MRS website).  What we could do with is a bigger more co-ordinated approach and to do that we need more of the industry involved.
The talk was part of whole morning of Congress papers dedicated to youth in research.  There were inspiring presentations by young researchers, conveying their passion for the industry.  They discussed the sorts of things GenY are looking for in a job; flexibility, mentoring, variety, opportunity.  All things that market research could offer in  a career.  The young researcher of the year finalists showed the amazing talent we are attracting to the industry, and the winner Pallavi Dhall’s, presentation on how to reach the gay male population  in India was fascinating.
The morning also showed we have a some way to go, Preritt Souda talked about why his friends are leaving the industry.  Salary seems to be a big issue, and I wondered is it perception or reality; are we really earning less than other areas of marketing services?  Something ENI will be researching with Chime and the MRS.  It also came out that in research that undergraduates think that management consultancy offers a better work life balance than market research – surely that can’t be true!
I’m looking forward to going back to ESOMAR next year and rather than talking about the issues, talking about the initiatives we have undertaken as an industry to make market research a career of choice.  Watch this space............