A reader of my blog asked me the following question: I’ve been offered an internship at this market research place, I was wondering how related it is to the advertising world in terms of the work they do. I know it gives me transferrable skills that I can use in many fields, but as a career it just feels a bit like academia, in the sense that you become world experts on a small area such as beer and then you move on to the next project. I also guess advertising is better paid and funner. Can you enlighten me?
Within market research you do not necessarily become an expert in a small area, that really depends on the company you work for and the oppertunities that you have.
If you plan your career well, you can become an expert in a certain field, which means you become much sought after. Even though you might consider the beer market small, as a highly experience market researcher you would know all the ins and outs in the market. You would be able to predict what is going to happen in the market. You would know how external dynamics, say a recession, will impact the market and how you can help clients get through this. To be highly accomplished you would understand international markets and its dynamics. This means that you can be a well paid employee for any of the big manufacturers as well as market research agencies.
As for being funner and well paid, that depends on what you do within advertising. I have worked for advertising in the past, and this meant placing adverts in different forms of media. I have ot say that was far more boring than the market research I am doing currently.
I think it depends what you are interested in doing. If you are highly creative and like to develop / design adverts, then a career in advertising is the right place to be. If you like to do research, dig through data to find the answer to your questions, then a career in market research is something to go for.
If you have the opportunity, I would take on the internship, get the experience and transferable skills and then you can always decide in the future to change careers if you think market research is not for you.