... senior-level professionals competing for fewer leadership roles on the client side, with many moving to the supplier or consulting side of the business
Building on trends from the past few years, 2015 was a year of shifting economic conditions. This, coupled with an evolving consumer landscape, caused disruption in many industries. The field of marketing research has been no exception, feeling the effects of consumer needs and behaviors that have changed across categories during the past several years. From new shopping and purchasing behaviors, to an increasing dependence on technology, to changing health and wellness trends, all of these, and more, have directly impacted companies and the marketing researchers within them.
Both client and supplier side organizations have been adapting to this changing atmosphere and mapping out the future of their research departments. There have been significant changes in the size and structure of many corporate research teams, often as a result of layoffs, mergers, or acquisitions. While there is still very much a demand for marketing research professionals across the country, the nature of this demand is shifting. Here are some trends to watch in the coming year, courtesy of the third annual Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Marketing Research Professionals:
1. Entertainment, tech, gaming, and e-commerce are heating up…
On the client side, industries such as entertainment, technology, gaming, and e-commerce continue to thrive. These types of organizations have made investments to grow their research departments and we don’t see their expansion slowing down anytime soon. In these growing industries, a frequent theme in our discussions with both researchers and hiring managers over the past year has been a commitment to strengthening in-house corporate research teams. Some companies have been structuring their research teams to function as an internal research supplier, while others build staff to better support research efforts and manage external supplier partners.
2. …while CPG is cooling off
The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, which has historically been a pillar in the research world, is currently struggling to find growth opportunities as consumer habits change. Many CPG companies have experienced restructuring and layoffs. Despite historically providing some of the highest salaries in research, many of these companies saw reductions in their research and insights teams last year, and more CPG-focused professionals are now on the job market as a result. These professionals are often among the highest paid, and some must now consider taking a lateral move or decrease in base salary when looking for their next position.
3. Client side hiring picks up at the junior level
As many client side organizations bolster their research teams, corporations seem to be adopting a new strategy when staffing their teams. They’ve turned their recruiting efforts to hiring more junior talent, typically from the supplier side. There are several reasons for this:
- Cost savings – supplier side talent with only a handful of years’ experience typically command lower base salaries.
- Additional hands-on researchers – having staffers who can be hands on decreases the need for corporations to outsource their research efforts.
- Lack of client side, junior talent – since, with a few exceptions, corporations have not routinely hired entry-level researchers, they must turn to supplier side talent to fill this increased need.
4. Scramble for top-level roles
Another piece to this new corporate recruiting strategy is a “less is more” viewpoint for the top roles: openings for those leading research teams are limited, while opportunities abound for younger researchers. This change has resulted in senior-level professionals competing for fewer leadership roles on the client side, with many moving to the supplier or consulting side of the business.
5. Suppliers must stay nimble to be competitive
On the supplier side, the industry continues to experience an interesting change, as corporate clients demand a tighter partnership with their suppliers. Suppliers that are more nimble continue to have an advantage when competing with the large legacy suppliers because of their more customized, consultative approach. It’s the firms that can operate as an extension of their clients’ own research teams that are thriving.
6. New marketing research technologies come to the fore
There is a continuing demand on the supplier side for new techniques and evolving methodologies to gather insights. Unique technologies such as virtual reality, eye tracking, online communities, mobile solutions, and social media intelligence continue to set suppliers apart from their competition. Suppliers that continually evolve, offer the latest set of tools, truly customize insights programs, and deliver actionable results quickly are the ones that continue to hire and expand.
[Photo courtesy of Financial Times Photos and a creative commons license]