I have a confession to make – I am ashamed of our industry at times.
I don’t know about you, but I have omitted or stretched the truth about the industry in which I work. At times, I may have even flat-out lied!
I have been offended when people say I work in market research.
I quickly proclaim that I work in marketing or strategy or consumer behaviour or whatever cool phrase of the times I feel adeptly explains my chosen profession.
This occasional behaviour of mine has always sat well with me, it is something that has never bothered me. I have always thought horses for courses – not everybody understands the full complexity of what I do. So I’ll just find other terms that better explain what I do. It’s not lying per se, it’s really just reframing for the un-educated. I have chosen different phrases for different audiences at different times. With my peers and partner agencies I can call it market research, but with marketing colleagues I talk “insights and strategic planning”. With friends it might be “consumer behaviour” or consumer marketing and with my Mum I’m just happy she now understands I don’t work in computing anymore after many years of explaining that just because I use a computer at work does not mean I work in computers! She is now happy in the knowledge that her daughter makes TV ads and create her new blend of coffee.
You see, I find the term ‘Market research’ just does not do justice to what I do. When people hear the words market research, they think of people in the streets asking surveys and those god-awful annoying telemarketers. My professional world is a long way from this image that most people have in their minds. But perhaps even worse than my little white lies for the uneducated (which I am sure I could be forgiven for), I have felt embarrassed to admit that I work in this industry amongst my marketing peers. Why? Because we are not a sexy or cool industry! We are the people that are seen by zealous marketers and ad industry veterans to kill creativity.
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Joanna Derry is the head of marketing excellence and head of insights and planning at Nestlé SA where she leads and manages marketing processes and communications. Prior to this she worked at Nestlé as their global insights manager. Previous roles have been in customer insights, consumer knowledge and shopper behaviour.