Here is the third installment of our series covering emerging roles in the market research industry. Job Muscroft, the Face MD in London, kicked it all off in his post about the various roles that are changing the face of market research. In this post, we’ve interviewed one of our co-creation consultants here at Face, Research Director Esther Garland, to learn a bit more about what it’s like to work in qualitative market research as a co-creation consultant.
How would you describe your role?
My role…. Part planner, part creator, part trainer, part performer, part researcher. To do co-creation successfully you need to be many things at any one time. It’s not the same as running a focus group – you still have the insight objectives but actually your role is to create an immersive, inspiring way of getting to those objectives. If I could make a rule in co-creation that you are not allowed to ask direct questions (as you do in more traditional methodologies) I would.
How did you become a marketing research co-creator? What’s your background?
I started in market research for a publishing company so I have an appreciation of product development, I then spent some time as a planner for a couple of above the line and digital agencies giving me an appreciation of the creative process, ideation and strategy. I came to agency side qual research to be closer to consumers again, and this is a great place to get an appreciation for managing clients and stakeholders, and deadlines (both of which are big parts of co-creation).
Any tips for how to stand out from the competition when you’re trying to get a job in co-creation?
Like any qual research, co-creation is about a balance of people skills (being able to engage people, being able to elicit information and shape conversations) and analytical skills (being able to judge information, get behind the words to the meaning, find the underlying assumptions and unstated beliefs). However it’s the creative and performance bits that are different from traditional research – anything that can demonstrate you think about problems differently and design creative solutions to those problems, and any skills you can demonstrate in performance will set you apart.
What are the top three rules you have to follow as a co-creator in market research?
- Make it fun – create the right environment, gamify the session, set the right atmosphere
- Make it creative – design exercises that use different parts of the brain, do things that feel challenging or strange, think laterally about how to get to your objectives
- Make it physical – vary the pace, get people moving about, change the scenery
Where do you see your role going in the next five years? What’s the future for marketing research co-creation?
It’s worth noting that increasingly I think co-creation will be adopted as a core part of the qual armoury (if it isn’t already) so really this question doesn’t make sense – additionally I’m not just co-creator, I’m an Insight and Strategy specialist. Co-creativity is a philosophy rather than a tool – so in fact for us, I see principles of co-creativity (creating immersive environments, building long term mutual relationships between clients and consumers, sharing the responsibility for success) governing all the research activities we do.
Increasingly though I think it’s going to be about how you layer co-creation with other tools and data sources – whether that is social media insight, crowdsourcing or social media monitoring.
What’s the biggest mistake you most often see in co-creation? What’s so bad about it?
Just treating it like a souped-up focus group – albeit with clients in the room asking the questions as well. This is just lazy and not harnessing the full power of the approach – you won’t get better ideas or insight from just doing the same thing in a bigger room.