Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Award  finalist Kate Weymer, senior data scientist, Microsoft 

Editors Note: Kate Weymer, Microsoft, was selected as a finalist of the 2022 Researcher of the Year (End-Client) Award which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. To find out more about the awards click here.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in marketing research?  

Two things come to mind when I’m talking to new-in-career market researchers. The first is to know the business! The insights we generate from the research we do are only useful in the context of a clear and actionable business recommendation. The key to communicating an insight or recommendation is grounding it in the specifics of how the business operates. A deep understanding of how various business functions operate, how a business makes money, the short and longer term strategies of the company will ensure your recommended “go-do’s” stemming from the insights are well received and acted upon. The second is that market research is a vast and growing field. There are no shortages of ways to keep your work life interesting. For example, doing the same type of research for a new business/category/industry can feel like a night and day difference. The evolution of the industry in terms of digital transformation and data science integration is so powerful and ever evolving. My advice would be to stay curious about new technologies and methodologies and continue to build out your research “tool box” –  this is such an exciting space to be in!

How do you see the marketing research industry changing in the next five years? 

I think the amazing advances in digital transformations within companies as well as the accelerating rate of new data science techniques and technologies are going to amplify the impact researchers can have on their businesses. The advancements in deep learning, machine learning and explainable AI are staggering and it just takes some subject matter expertise and thoughtful ideation to bring these powerful methods together with traditional market research.  For example, at Microsoft we’ve found a way to tie attitudes and perceptions to movements in business outcomes like revenue. How exciting to evolve the field and ground brand perceptions in the reality of business outcomes to make their impact more tangible for decision makers.  Much like how the marketing talent pool has evolved in the last 10 years with the evolution of digital media, you will see an advanced analytics and data science skill set become more commonplace within market research than we’ve seen in the past.  

What has been your favorite part of being a researcher?

Being in market research is a haven for the endlessly curious. I’m over a decade into my career and I have yet to be bored. When I joined Microsoft I started in the consumer businesses. I had worked in consumer [research] before but I was coming from Levi Strauss and Company and selling apparel was obviously quite different from technology. Doing the same type of work in a new industry felt completely refreshing. When I switched to research for the commercial business I had to learn the immense complexities of doing research in the B2B space. It was an intense time of learning, but so rewarding to unlock a new skill set. Being in market research means you will always have opportunities to learn and expand your understanding of customers and their behaviors. When you also consider the constant evolution and innovation within the field, you realize yet another facet to continued learning and growth as a researcher.