Welcome to our "Why I Love MR" Q&A Series! We have talked with both internal AMC Staff and some of our clients, so keep an eye out for fun interviews coming up exploring all the reasons why those of us who work in market research are so passionate about what we do! Interested in being interviewed and sharing why YOU love MR? Reach out to us.
Here we get a chance to know AMC's Kelly Jasper, EVP of Corporate Strategy & Innovation a little bit better...
A lot of little kids want to be astronauts, firefighters, or doctors when they grow up. Few five year olds would tell you, “When I get older, I want to be a market researcher!” How did you first get involved in market research, and what drew you to it?
KELLY: I fell into the industry completely by chance. I was a Sales & Business Marketing major in college, with endless curiosity and a passion for understanding human behavior. Relationship building and data analysis have always come naturally to me, but I unfortunately didn’t know much about the MRX field at that time. However, in order to graduate, I was required to get an internship and I was lucky enough to land at a small custom research agency in West Michigan. I started my career focusing on non-profit, municipal, and childcare center feasibility research and quickly realized that marketing research was the perfect fit for me.
What has surprised you most about working in market research and insights?
KELLY: How fast paced and ever evolving the industry is. It’s amazing to look back over the past 20 years and see just how far we’ve come. When I first started in market research, CATI, RDD, and faxing surveys was the norm and now we’re having conversations about how to best utilize AI without losing the human voice. I always like to say that if you’re bored in our industry, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. There’s always something new to learn—new techniques to try, new partners to work with, new conferences and webinars to attend, etc. MRX is stacked with some of the best, most intelligent people out there. We’re a small but mighty close-knit community that all individually contribute to the growth of the industry.
During your career, what has been your favorite research project? Why?
KELLY: Being in the industry for 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work on some pretty cool projects. I’ve helped a major automotive manufacturer stretch beyond its legacy vehicles to develop completely new offerings to appeal to new consumer groups. I’ve assisted global beverage companies in turning a practical purchase into a full-blown experience. I’ve guided alcoholic beverage companies through various new launches—especially during the seltzer and canned cocktail craze. And, I’ve had the opportunity to segment consumers so precisely that with just 5 basic questions, sales reps knew exactly what type of person they were working with on the floor. While these are just a few brief examples, everything we do is fascinating. Seeing our insights drive action for all of the various clients we work with is what gets me out of bed every morning.
Surprise! You’ve been given unlimited resources to study anything in the world. What does this passion project look like? What would you discover?
KELLY: This is such a tough question to answer! It would be great to discover how to solve all the major issues across the globe—world peace, the cure for cancer, food scarcity, etc., but this could be a stretch for marketing research alone. Instead, let’s spin this to something a bit more lighthearted and make my passion project the Detroit Lions. The goal would be to research players from around the league (and up and comers), using their game stats and predictive modeling to build a Super Bowl winning franchise by 2025. It’s basically the Moneyball approach for football and you wouldn’t need Brad Pitt or Jonah Hill because you’d have me and a solid team of market researchers backing the cause. A girl can dream, right!? Just looking at our off-season trades/pick-ups, I’d say we’re already heading in the right direction.
Market research studies come in all shapes and sizes, from quick claims and message tests, to large and complex conjoint analysis, to getting your feet on the ground with in-depth qualitative interviews. What’s your favorite methodology or research approach?
KELLY: While I love all the color we can get from qual, I’m a self-proclaimed data nerd, so quant holds my heart. If you were to ask my team, they’d tell you that I favor studies where we can use any form of choice analytics—I love a good MaxDiff or Conjoint study. At the end of the day, I like to provide my clients with clear, definitive answers, to guide them in their decision-making process and that’s exactly what you get with these techniques! Although, I should caveat, every approach has a time and a place to shine.
What do you feel are hot topics and cutting-edge innovations in the market research field today? How do you feel this will shape the future of insights careers?
KELLY: I feel the current “hot topics” and buzz is all around AI/machine learning/ChatGPT and other automated analyses (like sentiment analysis or opinion mining). While the benefit is clear: speed and efficiency by streamlining processes to obtain faster insights, there’s still a lot to be said for human expertise. I find these tools fascinating (and they definitely have their place in the world of Big Data), but I personally do not feel that they should ever fully replace traditional, human-guided research. Instead, they should be used as an augment…a way to complement custom research solutions. In my opinion, human understanding (especially when it comes to the context surrounding what we’re researching) and strategic judgment will always be necessary. Quickly finding the story in the data is important, but discerning the human voice (and empathy) behind the data is even more critical. It’s what allows us to bridge a connection between our clients and their consumers.
What would you tell someone who is considering a career in market research?
KELLY: If you’re innately curious, with strong analytical skills and enjoy the quest to find answers, this is the career path for you. I consider marketing research to be more than just a job, but an adventure. In our field, we get the unique opportunity to masterfully blend art with science to create data-driven stories that drive meaningful change. It’s an industry that is constantly evolving and will stretch you in ways you didn’t think were possible. This career path is as demanding as it is fulfilling, with endless growth opportunities. I’ve been in the field for 20 years and I’m looking forward to the next 20! There’s still so much to learn and new insights to be gained!
Thank you, Kelly!
Why do YOU love market research? Let us know, and maybe you can be our next guest in this series!