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Where Have All the Interviewers Gone? Should We Care?

In the past few years, online research has exploded. In fact, last year online research revenue in the United States—according to Inside Research—was $1.184 billion vs. $1.227 for Qualitative research. Only $430,000 separated these two different methodologies, which is amazing since online research has only been around for a fraction of the time of qualitative. There is no question that Gordon Black was correct when he stated at a conference presentation that online research would change the market research industry forever. He was laughed at back then. However, I have a feeling all of those chuckles are long gone.

Ok, so we know online research is here to stay…but who cares! That’s old news! Well let me take a different approach today and start with a quick story.

In 1984 my mother came home from what she called the greatest experience of her life. People listened to her for two hours (clearly something that my two sisters and I didn’t do at an early age). Then they fed her and she got paid. She said, “I was part of a focus group and the facility was looking for interviewers.” Low and behold, I applied, got the job, and 22 years later the rest is history. During that time I was a phone interviewer, I interviewed in malls and truck stops, and even did door to door interviewing. In essence I got into this great industry by ACCIDENT! When I share my story with others in the industry they have similar stories.

Back to online research. Clearly what online research means is less interviewers, both on the phone and in malls. What it also means is less coders since most coding is now automated and takes a fraction of the time. After doing a quick count around M/A/R/C Research, I believe over 50% of the staff started their research career as an interviewer, coder or programmer. Clearly less of these jobs are now available. So……….

  • How are people going to get into our industry?
  • In 2006 and beyond what is the entry level job?

I have asked a number of people in the industry their thoughts on this subject and no one has any answers. So for an industry that has also seen a tremendous amount of reduction in staff on the end user front and is starving for new talent, I am very concerned.

Am I alone?

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