Food for thought

Food for thought

by Martin Brock,

My wife Emma has a greengrocers on Knaresborough High Street. I help out there most Saturdays, up early for the deliveries, sorting out stock, taking rubbish to the tip and even dealing with members of the public who want to buy fruit and veg.

That was very easily explained in one sentence, which is more than can be said for quantitative research. I lost track of the number of times I explained it to my Dad, only to be faced with a blank look! I also used to be part of a group on Facebook called “I work in Market Research & no I don’t stand in the street with a clipboard”.

This, of course, will be the stock answer to the one question you’re asked at parties before people drift off to talk to someone more interesting. I did one find a fellow quantitative researcher at a party and we had a happy hour in the kitchen engrossed in geeky conversation. That’s a story I’ll tell if you’re looking for a remedy for insomnia.

I’m being unfair of course. While I do have a mug proclaiming that I love spreadsheets (which I do) and a t-shirt which says “Geek” on the front, I find quantitative research to be a fascinating career. I fell into it by accident after university, not being sure of what I wanted to do.

While I did have a year away to work in a school four years’ into my career, the grass wasn’t greener on the other side and I was happy to be welcomed back into the research fold. I’ve been with three of the largest research firms in the world, plus one which is steadily growing through mergers and I am now happily working in Leeds here at Gusto Research.

I think perhaps the reason that it is so difficult to explain quantitative research is because it is such a varied career. I started mine off working in Oxford looking at new product development and volumetric forecasting for cleaning products and over-the counter medicines. After a sojourn into secondary education in Sheffield, I moved back down south, staying with the sales forecasting but working across a range of subjects.

I have presented research findings in French about frozen fish sales, I have looked at lottery games across Europe, I looked at sales of chocolate bars in Canada and I have worked with new developments in the feminine incontinence marked in Korea just to name a few examples.

A change of company saw me focus more on FMCG products, but encompassing a broader role, ranging from pack testing to U&As. However, a 3-4 hour commute became too wearing and I switched to a company closer to home in London where I was part of a team working with services and durables, but I also took in a secondment to another team within the business focussing on shopper research.

Plenty of conjoint research within the services and durables team which I have carried on since moving north, but now focussing predominantly on financial research.

Why have I given a precis of my career to date? It is just to give an illustration of the varied backgrounds of researchers you might find here at Gusto Research.

There are, of course, areas I have not investigated. Automotive comes to mind (although I was once asked about luxury speedboats). However, other team members have that knowledge. Or I’ve done few children’s studies but we have experts within the team in the area.

Therefore, whatever your subject area of research, you can contact Gusto in confidence, knowing that you will be dealing with experts who can provide the best possible solution to meet your business and research objectives.

Martin Brock