Daily Winner for: – 29th July 2012
Name of the intern: – Saranyan
Institute: – K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research
Organization interned with: – Yourcabs Pvt. Ltd.
“May be this guy is a prospective respondent…yes, I am convinced he is. I am going to get hold of him. Let me prepare my questions,” – mind voices are more insane than the mind itself. But before I do anything, I thankfully realize I am sitting in a bus on the way to my home town and was no longer supposed to scout for respondents for my questionnaire. Beware, two weeks of consumer market research can in fact do more than this to you. But as with everything in life, there’s a fun side to it too (or perhaps it lies in the eyes of the researcher).
On a typical day (for a marketer no day is typical but for want of a cliché’), you get to meet and interview at least 20-30 people. One respondent treats you like a salesman. The next talks to you like you are the owner of the company. He asks you about funding, future plans, mission, vision and the name of your pet dogs. So basically at the end of it, you almost suffer from an identity crisis. When you go to sleep at night, questions like “who am I?” ,” What’s the purpose of life?” start creeping up in your head. “Congratulations, you’re half a marketer now,” said an inner voice. Another said “Thank God, at least half your sanity is intact!”.
When you’re doing a random survey, picking the right people to interact is a chapter in itself. In a shopping mall, bored husbands, who are waiting outside the stores while their wives ‘just went in to check out something’ but never seem like returning, are sitting targets. But there’s a catch, literally. If the wife catches you while you’re still talking with him, her cold ‘What are you trying to sell to him’ stare can make you skip your next meal. Girlfriends are even worse. Sometimes you almost feel like shouting to her “No, lady. I am straight!”
Luckily a few nice women come to your rescue and save your female respondent ratio. Be sure to listen to their inputs; they would be the most valuable. Finally then you find that scarce commodity – the single guy, who is leaning on the rails in the aisle of the mall and looking lost, perhaps pondering about the very fact that he is single. You approach him and make an introduction, which by now resembles an IVR response. The guy lets you start with your questions and when you finish the first, he would say pleadingly “Yaar.. today is the only day I get to relax (ogling at the sales girls downstairs doing a mall activation for a product), we will talk later yaar please.” You leave confused whether you should take more pity on him or on yourself.
Managing to get female respondents is the killer test. All your term exams now seem to be trivial before this. Women in a group never respond. They have other ‘important’ things to discuss. And then comes alone this 20-something girl. And she goes. And you have been watching her all the while, forgetting about your research. Damn! You spend four hours in a mall interviewing customers and after all that, if someone asks you to name four brands you saw inside, you would fail. That is, assuming you are a male reader. Because you would have all the time scanned the faces of prospective respondents. “That guy is looking a little tired.. he might not respond,” ” She is standing alone and looks irritated. Perhaps waiting for her boyfriend? Gosh worst candidate then.”
You’ll learn more psychology than marketing. Or perhaps marketing is all about consumer psychology. The HR folks would rejoice. That said, market research is only a part of a marketing intern’s job. Also no other task opens you up like research does. You shed all inhibitions (and some weight too!), meet new faces, face new challenges and learn to innovate on the run, well literally! And when you move on to doing stuff like branding ideas or communication strategy in the second phase of your internship, you do miss the adrenaline rush that research blessed you with.
To conclude, I would like to mention that the eight weeks at my internship in a start-up environment was full of learning opportunities and I would like to thank my organization for the same. Every experience leaves some lessons for us to reflect and I had mine too. “Marketing starts and ends with the consumer. Ask her. Ask genuinely. It’s not easy, but don’t give up. Probe her. Learn what she desires. Sweat to deliver it. And she will love you back!”
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