Where To Start A Marketing Research Career?

This week brings the annual career fair for the Master of Marketing Research program at UGA. Client side companies like  VISTAKON (a Johnson & Johnson company), Capital One, Altria, Pepsi, JPMorgan Chase, Eli Lilly, and Merck will attend and we’ll get to talk to them about the role of marketing research in their companies, and of course career opportunities.

There will also be quite a few marketing research firms such as Bellomy Research, Lieberman Research Worldwide, Synovate, Directions Research, QualiData Research, Burke, and Dunhumby. The big question that everyone is facing is where should they start their career? Starting on the supplier-side could offer more learning opportunities, but hours tend to be longer and pay is less, at least that’s what we’re told.

A big positive at the client-side is the ability to apply the research and see the results. I’m not a fan of research for research’s sake, and I have a marketing undergraduate degree, so application is attractive. On the other hand, if the research firms are anything like the marketing agency I worked at, then they’ll be unbelievable opportunities to learn and improve as a researcher.

The research director from BBDO, the mega ad agency who owns the AT&T account, came to Athens, GA and spoke with us last week, and it seems that they have a pretty excellent research department there too. There won’t be as many opportunities with ad agencies during the recruiting period though, which is a shame.

I write this to seek advice from veterans of the industry. Location is fairly important to me, as I’d like to stay in the South, somewhere reasonably close to my family, as I wait for my long time girlfriend to earn her CPA’s license.  Does it really matter on which side you start your career? I may not receive offers from both sides, but I only have so much time and have to budget my efforts to where I look for a job.

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5 thoughts on “Where To Start A Marketing Research Career?

  1. Nice to meet you, Ryan. To start your career, I’d advise you to seek out a position that will expose you to different methods and different markets (within a brand, that might be different products or different countries). That way you’ll discover what you enjoy the most and it will set you up to focus later.

  2. Nice to meet you as well, and thank you for the comment. That’s more or less what I was thinking… the place where I could learn the most. I spoke to someone from the client-side whose company is willing to expose you to a lot of different things and move you around upon request. The full-service research agencies seem like fantastic places to learn as well, and while I don’t know if all the marketing agencies are good places to start, BBDO seems to have a particularly strong research component.

    On another note, Francona, Epstein, and now Papelbon?

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Obviously the answer varies for each person, and it is hard to draw absolutes about client vs. supplier, as you could have a good or bad experience with an employer on either side. Having said that though starting your career with a supplier often gives you the benefit of exposure to working in many different types of industries. From there you can figure out whether you want to stay on supplier side or move to client.

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