Trade shows, client calls, casual coffee in the lobby before a long day of meetings in some major city. I’ve talked to many experts in my industry and there is always a common theme: “I never planned a career in market research.”
After graduating with a degree in business and minor in economics, I spent a short time before deciding to close down the tech startup that had been the focus of so many of my college years. I answered a job ad on Monster.com and immediately received an offer for what now feels like pennies. It was a software startup creating online surveys, something very foreign in 2002. I now know it as quantitative market research, but at the time it was just late nights, early mornings, and a small 20-foot by 15-foot office with only one window to the outside. I hated and loved my job. I create cross tabs, programmed web based surveys, and began inventing new tools to make all of it easier — all out of necessity, as there was never enough time or help.
That small shop of 5 grew to 300 with offices nationally and internationally. I was working support for 24 hour spans, sometimes with meetings in L.A., London and Singapore all in the same day. I loved it. It felt important. There was that time Microsoft called to shut us down for a leak about their Xbox research. There were accidents costing thousands of dollars in Pete’s Coffee products and a million in discounts to Old Navy customers. There was the director of eBay research stating his 12-year-old could do better. And there was the $100 bottle of champagne for flawlessly executing an Intuit project. It was addicting. Everything felt like an ER visit, our clients needing everything delivered immediately and flawlessly.
Those times made me solid. You can’t falter or show fear. I have demoed products and answered tough questions to panels of the likes of eBay, Nielsen, Twitter, Facebook, Kantar, Visa, Eli Lilly and many, many more. They are unyielding. They require only the best technology and staff and support. I know them as my colleagues, clients and even friends.
I am market research. I have expanded to better understand both quantitative and qualitative methods, and understand the power of using one, the other or both. Despite callings to do other things, I keep reaching back and following opportunities in a world I now love.
Erinn Taylor is married with four children ages 2 to 13, and resides in his hometown Visalia, Calif., where he works remotely. He travels often managing staff and meeting with clients in the development and targeted proliferation of their market research based applications.