In Conversation With Market Researcher Lee Abbas

Based in New York City, Lee Abbas is the Managing Director at Kadence International, a marketing insight agency with offices in the USA, UK, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and China. Keep reading below for Lee's inspiring insights about market research, US market trends to watch and her favorite NYC restaurants. 

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You've had an interesting career path, can you walk us through it?  

I started my career in marketing launching new digital technologies into the U.S. market for Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. This set the tone for the rest of my career as I fell in love with new technology and new digital platforms and how consumer insights shaped the efforts of good marketing.

I made the transition to Ad Agency side through an OgilvyOne YouTube competition called “Search for the World’s Greatest Salesperson.” I was one of three finalist that were chosen to speak at the Cannes Lions Festival. I have spent nearly a decade helping consumer financial brands like American Express, Bank of America, and Citibank develop there acquisition campaigns and strategies.

Now, I have taken my passion for consumer insights one step further as I take on the role of Managing Director to launch Kadence International’s New York office. Kadence is an award winning global boutique marketing research firm that has 10 hubs around the world, mostly positioned in key markets in Asia.

Could you tell us about what your current role as a Managing Director entails?  

Launching Kadence | New York is a one of a kind role that I am very excited to be a part of. The founder of our parent company, Cross Marketing Group, started his company as a start-up, so this is part of our corporate DNA. I have the opportunity to create from scratch a new strategic hub for Kadence International in the city I love - at the cross roads of the world’s culture, data, and innovation. Kadence is a very well-known and well-respected brand throughout our global hubs, and now I get to build that same level of prestige here in New York.

What's your favorite part of working in market research? 

I learned early on in my career the importance understanding your consumers. I moved up very rapidly on the corporate ladder not just because I understood tech and digital, but because I was able to relate the features and specs to real consumer benefits. Now in market research, I get to focus on the aspect of my past positions that I loved the most, and had the most passion for - consumer insights.

What trends are happening in the US that market researchers should be watching?

We are moving beyond big data. Brands have figured out that data without meaning is a waste of time, and there is nothing worse that wasting time in the world of business. In order to be valuable to your clients, you need to be able cut through the waste and focus on the insights that are going to help their business grow. That is why at Kadence we stand behind our mantra of “Insight Worth Sharing.” We not only connect the dots for our clients, but we tell the story behind the data in a visual format that helps it spread throughout their organization and ultimately ignite action.

How has being an English major helped you in your career?

My favorite period of literature is the Victorian era - which really launched the format of the novel into popular culture. What novels have done, and continue to do, is tap into the natural human instinct to share our experiences in story form. Storytelling not only helps convey valuable information, but it is a format that intrinsically lends itself to being memorable and shareable. In my English studies, I studied storytelling formats from around the world, including East Asia, Europe, and in the Americas. I like to think that it is my ability to weave a story, make it memorable, relatable and most importantly entertaining is one of the reasons that I have been successful in my career. 

You're currently based in New York City, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

One of the best things about NYC is that you can get great food at every price point, and from nearly every country. Around the corner from my office (which is located at the heart of the financial district in downtown NY), is Delmonico’s which is one of Manhattan’s oldest restaurants. It’s famous for it’s steak and very well worth the high price tag. K-town has fond memories for me as I grew up near there, hanging around my parent’s store when I was young - any place on 32nd street between Broadway and 5th Ave is a guaranteed good meal. But growing up, my family always hit HanBat on 35th street - good traditional cooking with very reasonable prices. But everywhere I travel, I am most enticed by everyday street food. The growing popularity of “Halal Carts” has made the availability of tastes from the Middle East a New York staple! If you want to take it off the street and have some authentic Shawarma sandwiches though, go to Mamoun’s - inexpensive, flavorful, and surrounded by the heartbeat of the village (there is one at both East Village and West Village).

To get in touch with Lee find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Kushal Arora

Based in Mumbai, India Kushal Arora works as a Senior Manager of Knowledge and Marketing at social media intelligence company Germin8. Kushal shared a bit about his current role, trends in his market and what skills are needed to excel in the field.

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Could you tell us about your current role? 

In my current role, I overlook customer success managers who've been assigned to enterprise level customers. They are the caretakers of those brands' online reputation management and any campaign or crisis monitoring and reporting. I tend to supervise them and ideate ways to help them deliver client expectations. I also take care of any ad-hoc social media research projects and digital audits, wherein we help assess the effectiveness of brand owned social media properties.

What's your favorite part of working in market research?

Every new digital research project forces to learn new things, about a previously unknown or not-that-well-known service or product category. This way, each project is new in itself which thus makes it exciting for me.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

The trend about actual relevant and comprehensive conversations happening outside mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For instance, forums, blogs, even YouTube has a lot better content to study and analyse as opposed to conventional chatter on Twitter and Facebook which is too shallow for the most part.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

Research methodologies can be learnt while being on-the-job. However, command over language, ability to grasp people's intentions through their online writings, attention to detail, willingness to learn and ability to think from a 100-1000 level view is what, in my opinion, are essential to people entering social media research field. 

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I don't have a specific book or a course to recommend. Most of what I've learnt is while being on the job or having read blogs, news articles or LinkedIn posts.

To get in touch with Kushal find him on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Mireya Arteaga

Based in California's San Jose city but working in San Francisco, Mireya Arteaga is a freelance research profession who is currently Research Director for Magna Global. Having joined the company in January, Mireya mentioned she is loving her role.

Having spoken at a conference recently she kindly shared her bio which provides a great overview of her work experience. 

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"Mireya is a research director at Magna Global where she tests the effectiveness of new advertising products and strategies to help marketers make better media buying decisions. She has extensive experience running both domestic and international research studies related to Virtual Reality, Connected TV (CTV), advertising best practices, and brand engagement. Mireya has worked with Verto Analytics, Nielsen, Kantar Millward Brown, YuMe, Ipsos, Isobar, and Interpret, LLC. She holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from UC Santa Cruz."

Keep reading below for her input about her career, work day, industry trends she watching and her favorite places in San Francisco.

Could you tell us a bit about your career? How did you transition to market research?

I was a freelance data analyst for about a decade prior to managing research studies. I worked in a variety of industries which included financial, gaming and bioscience. About three years ago I applied for a job to work in research management and it was love at first sight. I was mentored by Paul Neto, (now VP at Milward Brown in Canada), and when he left our company I was given opportunity to manage the research department. It was a difficult transition as I was the only employee in the department, but I had the support of other teams as well. It was a steep learning curve and I loved every challenge. This year, had the great fortune to transition to freelance work again and land a position managing research studies at Magna. Working with a team on an international scale every day is exciting. I have found my niche in life and I intend to work in research for the rest of my career.

What's a day in the life or week of your current career like?

I love this! Every day falls into the following tasks:

1. Morning:

1. Project management: This is the bulk of any researcher’s day. Every morning I go through each study and review where we are and where I want to be by EOD. I review timelines, read and respond to emails, negotiate pricing, track down deliverables. Although this continues throughout the day, mornings are where I get reorganized and set the goals for the day through listing tasks by urgency.

2. Mid-morning to afternoon:

1. Meetings: Both internal and external meetings to manage workflow and set expectations on deliverables. The team I am on works as a group for all studies, so we are all expected to manage our own studies but can rely on everyone on the team to pitch in when times are tight.

3. Afternoon to EOD:

1. Study design, data work: This is the time of day when I usually sit down and perform the more hands on part of my job. If a study is underway, I work on pulling data for a storyline. If a study is about to launch, I spend hours reviewing test cell design with our SVP. If we are in the midst of creating a new study, sometimes I just sit and think and write notes on a scratch pad or chat with a team member. That time to sit with the idea and think of what we are really trying to say is invaluable. The execution is much faster if the idea is fully formed before any study design is undertaken. I try to follow the measure twice, cut once edict.

4. EOD:

1. Review of day: At the end of the day I review what is outstanding and clean up my notes for the day. Often I will send out final emails and send a request for review if I feel the task needs a new set of eyes.

Industry wise, what trends are currently happening in your sector that you find interesting?

Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are carving out exciting new entertainment categories, such as voice response games via the Echo. With this new media comes a brand new type of consumer interface. We are witnessing the dawn of a new means of communication and entertainment and I am looking forward to seeing how research companies respond to this new touchpoint.

You're currently work in San Francisco, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

Finding good cafes is my number one life goal outside of research and reading books. I love Atlas Cafe in the Mission [district] for good salads (beet especially), and Craftsman and Wolves for pastries. I live in San Jose so anywhere on the way to SF is fair game. Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park is my all-time favorite place for excellent chicken salad and huge carrot cake slices. Top it off with a visit to Kepler’s Books and I am set!

To get in touch with Mireya find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Arun Upadhyay

Arun Upadhyay currently holds an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown. Based in Mumbai, India he has experience in healthcare research and project management covering the EU and APAC.

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Keep reading below for his insights around entering the industry, developing expertise and current market research trends in India.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

I believe a bachelors and or graduate degree works here the best (in science, sociology, psychology, mathematics or marketing etc). But nowadays, a great importance is given to masters or post graduate programmes like MBA, business analytics etc.

To start working in this industry a person should at least be aware of the methodologies quant/qual [quantitate / qualitative].

You are currently in an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown, could you tell us about how that happened and what sort of work it entails?

Kantar is a global brand to work with and I was always keen to join Millward Brown as the work done here is more interesting which focuses more on catering to the end clients rather than helping the MR [market research] agencies to collect data. I deal in handling field operations and client servicing. Say, coordination among all the stakeholders involved in the projects.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

We cannot miss the digital world and this is taking over all other methodologies of collecting data. Though this is bit limited to qualitative methodologies. But that being said qualitative can always be more efficient if it remains to its original format. (Communication among the moderators and respondents is more effective here).

I believe data authenticity plays a very important role and thus researchers should see that it is coming from a right source and has been validated and is correct before processing it and presenting the insights to clients.

Again, I believe storytelling nowadays is gaining importance to get the insights from the consumers. Storytelling to collect feedback helps the researchers to keep the survey respondents engaged throughout and get a better responses over a period of time.

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I have enrolled myself to some of the LinkedIn Learning programmes. This is easily available on LinkedIn.

Below are some that can be reviewed:

Intuit, QuickBooks: 5 Resources to Conduct Market Research 

Government of Canada, Guide to Market Research and Analysis

GreenBook

Esomar

Quirks

To get in touch with Arun find him on LinkedIn.

In Conversation With Market Researcher Corey Hammer, Ph.D.

Selective Attention's summer content series of conversations with market researchers is officially launching! Our first interview comes from Corey Hammer, Ph.D. who works in Illinois' Greater Chicago area. 

As the Principal of Talisman Insights Corey is a seasoned researcher who holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a focus on Social Cognition from Chicago's DePaul University. He is also a Burke trained moderator. Keep reading below to hear what he had to say about his career, how his academic background informs his research and what industry trends are on his radar.

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Could you tell us a bit about your career? 

Sure. I started my career conducting product development research with consumers for Sanford Corporation. From there I progressed to pharmaceuticals and proprietary education (Career Education Corporation). I happened to find a great mentor about 2 years into my stint at CEC and from there began to take on progressively more responsibilities till I was the Head of Insights and Analytics for the Career Schools Business Unit. When CEC decided to shut down the Career Schools Unit, I took that opportunity to open my own consultancy as a sole proprietor, Talisman Insights. I work with a gamut of companies across education, healthcare, lifestyle services, hospitality, durable goods, and others doing qualitative and quantitative work.

How did you decide to focus on market research? 

It came down to logistics. My true heart is in academia-uncovering the mechanisms by which humans move through the world, making decisions and judgments-understanding how and why people tick. However, family trumped that and so I entered a more applied space where I could still develop an understanding of people but targeted towards helping businesses make better strategic choices.

You hold a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, how does this inform your research perspective? 

It comes down to two main components: an understanding of the basic processes that underlay human decision making; and, a focus on the voice of the consumer/customer. 90% of research is about asking the right questions and I help my clients develop the right questions to ask. If you’re asking those, then answers aren’t too far away. Everything I do is custom to my client and making sure her/his specific questions get answered in a way that helps them achieve better understanding.

What industry trends are you currently excited about? 

Online qualitative. Working with dscout and Focusvision’s Revelations products are amazing. You can obtain so much better engagement and involvement from your qualitative participants as well as such rich information that (for some qualitative projects) you simply cannot get in tradition research (due to time or cost of doing so).

On the flip side, I’m a little worried about the rise of machine learning, DIY, and AI tools. As an entrepreneur, I don’t have the financial or technical capacity to field “New MR” in the IT space, but that said, I also worry about businesses who think such measures are sufficient to understanding. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great tools but it’s another leg in the stool. In many cases, these solutions cannot tap into a broader audience; only the audience you currently have. For that, you still need insights from custom solutions and that’s where I come in.

To get in touch with Corey check out Talisman Insights or find him on LinkedIn.

Are You A Mechanic, Discover Or Strategist Market Researcher?

I've been poking my nose rather uncomfortably in the big world of market research and although this article was published quite awhile ago I thought the archetypes of mechanic, discoverer and strategist were useful both for understanding oneself and those around us in terms of research personalities.