A Week in the Life of a Junior Researcher at BDRC

By Martin Chan

18 February 2015

What’s it like to be junior researcher in market research (MR)? Is it all about using Excel spreadsheets and crunching data all day? For me at least, this isn’t true – my work as a Research Executive at BDRC Continental is both a mentally challenging and creative role that lets me learn about a diverse range of research techniques and exercise my artistic competence in designing client reports and infographics. Here, I share with you a snapshot of my weekly work as an RE with the Financial and Business (FAB) team, which I hope provides some insight into the life inside our agency.

Monday and Tuesday

I begin the first day of the week with a fresh cup of coffee at our Holborn office, sit down with a notebook, and start by planning my work for this week. This is a particularly busy week, as I’ll be working on three main projects: Mortgage Achilles, Twystery® and a ZMET project (I’ll explain).

In brief, Mortgage Achilles is an annual ‘quant’ study carried out with 2,600 key audiences in the mortgage market, and my part is to present the raw final data in a meaningful and visually appealing way on a report. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just about making things look fancy; this allows vast arrays of numbers to be communicated in such a way so that readers can easily and clearly see what the data means for them.

What I also enjoy about report design and production is that I’m free to be both analytical and creative. In the process, I even get to experiment with tools such as word cloud generators and GIMP. Clearly, MR is not mere number-crunching!

Reports for large studies such as Mortgage Achilles normally take at least a week to complete, but since we’ve made an early start, my work here is done until we agree on the dates for presenting the study to clients who purchased our study.

Wednesday and Thursday

9:40 AM - had a quick briefing from Tim (one of our Directors on the Media team) on our new research product, Twystery®. In essence, Twystery® is about applying the mystery shopping concept on Twitter and hence measures how well businesses/brands are responding to customer tweets. Since Twystery’s a new product, Tim has asked me to help develop a coding methodology for evaluating the tweet responses. While this task and the actual coding of the tweets means two full days of hard work, being able to help bring about a new social media MR product is, rest assured, a highly stimulating and rewarding experience – totally worth the effort!


TGIF! 10:30 every fortnight on a Friday is usually when we have our ‘resource meetings’, where our team’s middle managers and junior researchers sit together and catch up on our respective schedules. This meeting ensures that nobody is doing too much (or too little) work, and that work is efficiently distributed for all our on-going projects.

For the rest of today, I will be working with Abi on a ZMET project – a study using a deep-dive qualitative technique developed at Harvard Business School. This technique helps identify and understand subconscious needs and decision-making, which drive 95% of human behaviour. My responsibility is to analyse the messages our respondents are conveying in these ZMET depth interviews, and identify what they’re saying vis-à-vis our clients’ business objectives - a challenging yet interesting task.

At 16:00 we have “Bitesize” - this is a casual session that runs on the first Friday of every month, where we all come together to share interesting MR insights and ideas, e.g. from projects, attending conferences or Market Research Society (MRS) training sessions. At Bitesize, there’s always a sufficient supply of wine, beer and snacks to keep us refreshed – not bad for a Friday!

After a stimulating exchange with colleagues about the challenges to be aware of when moving telephone tracking studies online, my fascinating week of work ends here. Time to head off for the weekend!

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