As we straddle the educator/professional line of marketing and advertising, we see that there are certain subjects and topics that are either ignored or suffer from an acute disconnect. One of the topics we have seen that both students and professionals struggle with is market research.
We are still trying to determine if the concepts are being taught poorly in school, or if there is such a lack of emphasis throughout school (including college) that the application of the knowledge, once the student turns professional, is absent.
Or, perhaps it starts out strong in a young professional's life and the instant gratification nature that has poisoned our industry does not allow for proper market research strategy to take its course. Because the C-Suite and brands demand high-quality work in half the time required, the result is what we see — pseudo, watered-down, superficial facts and information that don't truly answer the questions needed for progress or innovation to be made.
We think that there is more than just one answer. We believe that the above hypothesis would be true if tested, but it would not solve the issue.
As an educator, we also have the privilege of advising a DECA Chapter, an organization for the most ambitious marketing students. As we prepare them for competition, one of the performance indicators many of the students struggle with is marketing information management; in short, market research. Yes, we even received data from the folks who created our curriculum, and the part that students struggle with the most is, surprise surprise, marketing information management.
Our issue is multi-faceted. We have students struggling with the material, and if these students actually gain mastery of market research, they are thrown into professional environments where they are awarded neither the time nor resources to put their knowledge into practice.
And still, with the emphasis of getting bright minds into the fields of STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math), we are losing analytical minds to those fields when our communications industry needs them just as much.
Is there a solution worth pursuing? Or, as lovers of market research, must we swallow the fact that our business environment relegates us to afterthoughts?
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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