Q&A: Market Research Specialization

Q&A: Market Research Specialization

What is market research? Why is it important for your business? We sat down with UC Davis Graduate School of Management professors Olivier Rubel and Ashwin Aravindakshan to get the inside scoop on the Market Research Specialization. Find out why delivering customer insights is valuable to any industry and how to find the story in data.

What first sparked your interest in market research?

Ashwin: I studied engineering for my undergraduate degree and in my last year of school, I became interested in economics and understanding behavior. I decided to follow that interest and take a risk by changing career paths and going to business school. I wanted to try and use the math I learned to model how people behave and understand how market research works. I received my Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Maryland and was lucky enough to get a job at UC Davis doing what I enjoy, which is research on consumer behavior and how we can use that information to help companies form better customer experiences.

What is Market Research?

Ashwin: Market research has many elements. We often think of it has collecting data but it’s more than that – you want to get insights that are useful. Today, for example, companies collect large amounts of data. Not all their data will be useful, so market research is about identifying key data you need to make decisions that feed towards a goal that you want to implement.

Whether that’s computing probabilities of customer purchases or indicators of customer satisfaction, the idea is that data collection is goal driven. So insights are a function of data you collect as well as the statistical techniques that you use. Once you get the data and the insights, both of which emerge from your goals, you then have to learn to tell the story with that data.

What will students learn from the Market Research Specialization?

Ashwin: Marketing today is a combination of art, science, and storytelling. In the Specialization, I want to help learners deliver insights from data and teach the methodologies that can help tell a story.  

For example, to study how a company’s product stacks up against competitors you would use positioning analysis, which has several dedicated components in the specialization. You’ll learn how to tell the story of your brand both in the presence of customer data as well as knowing how your brand stacks up against competitors. It’s going from establishing a goal, using that goal to drive data collection, developing insights, and telling a story that can be useful and help make decisions.

Olivier: In many situations, managers need to make decisions that need to be informed with data. In the specialization, I talk about two kinds of approaches, one is descriptive (purchase habits, customer preferences) and the other one is prescriptive (e.g., which price to charge). My goal is to give managers the different tools and techniques they need to get insights on marketing decisions using prescriptive and descriptive approaches.

Who should take this Specialization?

Ashwin:  If you’re new to marketing or unfamiliar with market research this is a good Specialization for you. If you are someone who works in a completely different field but wants to learn the language of market research, this Specialization would be useful to you.

Olivier: A lot of the techniques learned in this Specialization can be applied in different fields. For example, if you work in politics you can use market research to help you understand voter demographics. And in public health, market research can be used in things like anti-smoking campaigns which is something we cover.

Sign up for the Market Research Specialization here.


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