Upfront Analytics is continuing with its market research program director interview series. Last week, we interviewed Professor Charlotte Mason, Department Head and C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Chair of Business Administration, and Masters of their Marketing Research Program.
This week we reached out to Professor Paul Berger, Director of the Master of Science in Marketing Analytics Program at Bentley University. Professor Berger is a visiting scholar and professor of marketing, with 6 awards, most recently receiving the Best Paper Award in 2014 from the Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business Research. Professor Berger has published over over 125 journal articles, and numerous conference proceedings. Professor Berger also sits on 7 boards as an Editorial Review Board Member. We asked Professor Berger some questions regarding market research, teaching, and the future of the industry.
1) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the market research industry?
I believe that there is an increasing number of people coming out of (graduate) schools who are very skilled at all aspects of marketing research. I do not believe that there are enough people at intermediate-management or higher levels who appreciate that skill. They may think they do, but they often don’t know what they don’t know.
2) What direction does market research seem to be trending toward? Any particular field or method which seems to be picking up speed?
Virtually all areas of marketing analytics are “hot.” I do not see any one area superseding other areas. However, it is certainly true that some companies prefer to hire a person with more training in one area than another. But, it seems pretty even “on average.”
3) What has been the biggest change in the market research industry in the past 50 years?
There are two changes that are gigantic. One is the use of the internet and email for promotions and sales. The other is the movement of the field of marketing from “transaction-oriented” to “relationship-oriented.” This has led to CRM techniques and replacement of several marketing metrics by the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) metric. This is not to say that CLV is everything, but if marketers were forced to choose one metric and never look at another, the winner would likely be CLV (except for the folks who were not aware of CLV’s existence – which still happens on occasion.)
4) Are landline surveys and other traditional methods still viable in today’s tech-shaped world?
The trend is, clearly, toward online surveys. However, I believe that paper questionnaires, when added to telephone surveys, still outnumber online surveys.
There are many statistical techniques (supported by software) that are moderately advanced and not utilized to the extent they, ideally, could be.
6) What is the biggest challenge you face as director of Bentley University’s Master of Science in Marketing Analytics Program?
Getting full-time domestic students. Our FULL-TIME program is extremely heavy in international students. Our part-time program (same courses but at about half the pace) is mostly domestic, but has a good mix of international students who already have jobs in the U.S. Since the full-time students are the ones seeking positions (most often in the U.S.), this is sometimes an issue with sponsoring.
7) How is teaching market research different than when you were a student?
When I first studied marketing and marketing research, it was, in the majority, qualitative. The core marketing class was 100% qualitative – hardly a number in the whole course. The research course was perhaps half as quantitative as now. Of course, the development of software and cheaper hardware (relative to the power laptops have today) made a big difference. However, perhaps not germane to this question, but there is a “chicken and egg” question – were these developments “tech push” or “demand pull?”
8) When is the ideal time for a post-graduate degree in market research? After finishing college or after getting a few years of corporate experience?
I believe that the job market now is extra hot for those getting an MSMA or similar degree, and having lots of knowledge and lots of technical/statistical ability, but NO (or very limited) experience. This is because companies seem to want to hire these folks extra quickly. The companies will say that it is because they wish to train the prospective employee in that company’s culture. However, the real reason is that they can get these extremely bright and talented folks for much less money, due to their lack of experience.
9) If you could invite any one advertising/marketing/business (living, dead, real, fictitious) person to a meal, who would it be and why?
I would consider Vance Packard (author of “The Hidden Persuaders” in the late 1950’s (I think!!)). His book was, in my view, brilliant, and perhaps the first book that exposed the public to how the field of marketing (mostly “advertising” in those days) can be incredibly fascinating. It has no statistical analysis at all, and has nothing to do with marketing analytics, but in its time was an incredible breakthrough.