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Diapers, Foot Cream and Diversity: Market researchers can live out their interests.

B.A. Creative Industries Management students visit the “Happy Thinking People” market research company and learn insider tips.

Champagne glasses sit on the shelves in the observation room, a very Mad Men-esque sight for a Berlin market research firm now whether they are used or not, we don’t know. However, the company did say: “We do new, crazy things everyday!”

The C627 Research Methods module, taught by Prof. Dr. Svenja Tams, visited the research company Happy Thinking People (Rosenstraße 17, Berlin). The company, founded in 1989 in Munich, has offices in five cities, each location employing people of diverse backgrounds to bring cultural insights into the research. All the staff is from varied academic backgrounds, proving that the field is not limited to people with only certain academic knowledge.

Students had prepared questions to ask about the new and interesting process of market research, and the company had a lot to share with the class. Today, there is an added importance of market research to finding out what businesses are out there, and what needs of the customer have to be fulfilled. The students were given an insight into research methodologies, for example: concept labs, the importance of correct wording while interviewing people, hosting a focus group, presenting TV storyboards to people, the importance of a hypothesis from the client, home visits and online ‘diaries’ prior to them, plus the relevance and uses of pen and paper in focus groups. They also emphasised, however, that the research method is affected by the client and differs from case to case, based also on the requirements. Monique Richter, Nina Keller and Olaf Marx (the HR Head), employees at the firm, further explained important terms used in market research that the students may need later in the module: such as “validation”, “trend inputs”, “consumer reality”, “touchpoints” and more. Additionally, there was some explanation on how to choose research group participants - combining the client’s choice as well as strategizing done by the researchers.

Unexpectedly, a foot cream company was a very interesting product for the firm. The researchers got to ask people from Southern Italy and other coastal locations how they cared for their feet, what they associated with their feet, and other similar ‘strange’ questions. Employees also find that their interests change over time and their job reflects this: for example, one employee found herself being far more interested in working with diaper companies and the like after she became a mother.

Happy Thinking People also gave the students a little insight into how research participants are found: the recruitment department of the company has a database of participants who might be eligible for certain studies. They did too explain that all data was absolutely anonymous, due to data protection laws and to protect the participants’ privacy and anonymity. And while participants are encouraged by monetary compensations for their time, they more often than not tend to enjoy the participation process more.

Text: Aariya Talcherkar

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Prof. Dr. Brigitte Biehl


für den B.A. Creative Industries Management & International Management (Creative Industries) | Professorin für Medien- & Kommunikationswissenschaften | Direktorin des "Institut für Weiterbildung in der Kreativindustrie (IWK)"
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