"I think that life model and character are crucial for getting into market research."
What makes the market research industry so exciting and in what areas does it stand out? What will market research and its "participants of tomorrow" look like? We spoke to Herbert Höckel, Managing Partner of moweb research, about what he particularly appreciates about his profession and what, in his opinion, makes a market researcher.
marktforschung.de: Mr. Höckel, let's assume you are asked on the train by a school-leaver what you do for a living. You talk about working in market research. The young lady is still in the orientation phase professionally and you decide to persuade her to start her career in market research. How do you go about it?
Herbert Höckel: That almost sounds like I'm the devil's advocate. I would like to modify the question to "What do you do for a living? My answer would be "I research markets! It's not like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, but a bit more calculated and without danger to life, but still a bit like Minecraft. Armed with pencils and pythons instead of pickaxes, we market researchers dig through mountains of numbers and texts in search of the vein of gold. Our clients and we, at moweb research, are usually driven by three core questions: "Where...?", "What...?" and "Why...?". Whenever we encounter the where, we look around in the environment, the what is mainly about numbers, data and facts, and the why usually describes feelings, motives and thoughts. Or in other words, secondary statistics, quantitative and qualitative research.
marktforschung.de: In other industries, you can earn better than in market research. What compensates for the salary sacrifice?
First and foremost, it's the colleagues who make this industry lovable and worthwhile. And as we all know, money isn't everything in life. If you're primarily after monetary rewards, you can certainly earn more faster elsewhere. But salaries in market research aren't bad either, and good researchers are worth their weight in gold, as mentioned above. I think that lifestyle and character are crucial to getting into market research. I for one am incredibly curious and in love with problems. I am always happy to think about my clients' questions and to find the best methods, tools, approaches and hypotheses to answer these questions in a way that is relevant to their strategy. And when a client calls me with the words "Mr. Höckel, we have a problem...!", I am particularly pleased, because in addition to "where, what and why", there is now also a "how...?" involved - in other words, evidence-based, strategic management consulting.
marktforschung.de: Would you say that this is an industry of the future with great job prospects? Or is the profession a phase-out model because market research will be automated in the future by the companies themselves and done on the side?
As the reader may have noticed by now, the symbol of a clipboard and a questionnaire for market research is rather antiquated. The market researcher of today, and especially of tomorrow, has moved far away from statistics, spreadsheets and presentations to become a data consultant. The market researcher of today and tomorrow is a fact-based generalist who always selects the best possible from countless procedures, methods and tools in order to answer the client's questions on time, on budget and on strategy. The question always determines the choice of methodology: How can we answer what we need to know now as truthfully as possible? And what do we already know? To what extent do existing data help us? Where can we do without questions, if possible? Where do we have behavioral data? And which questions are necessary and purposeful? I see market research as an industry absolutely fit for the future, because with all the stream of data from Big Data, IoT, social media and device or cookie tracking, it still needs an analytical, clever mind to make a delicious fact snack out of all these wonderful ingredients. By the way, this can't be done DIY, and certainly not on the side - at most hand in hand!
marktforschung.de: If you were to go into market research again, what career choices would you make differently this time?
Yes, I would do one or two things differently. I probably would have treated myself to a work-and-travel year after graduating from high school, simply to broaden my personal horizons. Hopefully, I would also have known about the development of the Internet and would have studied business informatics. In general, I would advise the young lady from the train to first explore the world with her own eyes for a while. And then, if she is still interested in market research, to study business psychology or business informatics. But I'm less worried about this with the current generation of students. They have a pretty good handle on the work-life balance and purely materialistic aspirations don't always seem to be of primary importance. We certainly have enough nice colleagues here; the working atmosphere is right and the tasks are varied and diverse. marktforschung.de: Please complete: If I had not gone into market research, ...
...I would probably have become a mountain guide because of my love of the mountains. But I didn't know that almost 30 years ago! Thank you very much for the interview!
The interview was conducted by Gessica Uerling
Herbert Höckel is a managing partner here at moweb research GmbH. He has been a market researcher for more than 25 years. In 2004 he founded moweb GmbH, which he is still the owner today. moweb from Düsseldorf operates internationally and is one of the first German market research institutes specializing in digital processes.