‘I don’t want to work for any big agency; I am only interested in smaller qualitative agencies’. Sounds familiar? We bet! We’ve heard it again and again from our candidates. Many clients adapt the same approach to “smaller is better” mentality and request to only meet candidates from small to medium-sized agencies.
But is this attitude right? Are candidates missing out on fantastic job opportunities in qualitative market research by snubbing bigger agencies? Is clients’ apprehensive attitude towards meeting quallies from larger competitors justified in today’s war for qualitative talent?
Some claim that much like trying to turn an aircraft carriers, larger market research agencies are not as agile and swift as smaller outfits. Propagators of smaller businesses deem them to be more innovative in trying new methodologies and approaches because they are not slowed by past experiences and accomplishments.
The feeling of being a part of ‘a family’ is also often cited as an advantage that smaller research agencies have over larger ones. This sentiment of the family creates a tremendous amount of energy during challenging projects and tough times.
However, many large agencies have created unique, close-knit qual teams that feel like the family-units! These are often run by exceptionally talented and inspirational individuals who started out at a smaller outfit and made the big leap to a bigger agency! We recently worked with one such Research Director / Head of Department helping to fill a senior qualitative research role on her team. Our candidates who interviewed there were enormously impressed by the team’s sharp thinking, innovative methodologies used and quality of outputs delivered!
So does size really matter?
Many MRS winning agencies believe that being close to their clients is important for success in any business, large or small. Clients form long-standing relationships with market research agencies that deliver concise, commercially orientated research underpinned by sharp thinking. It’s not the size but providing a coherent understanding of what’s going on, and what it could mean for brands that matters! The process that the agency uses to get an answer can take any form from a wide range of techniques including focus groups, one-to-one depth interviews, ethnographic immersions, blogs, mobile tasks, creative workshops, semiotics or cultural trend analysis to name a few.
One last thing to note before deciding on ‘big or small’ is that different agencies have different areas of specialism. Some agencies often go beyond research ‘findings’ to work directly on more strategic implications, others might have a different angle such as reputation management, innovation, kids, youth, packaging or healthcare. It’s important to do research into the qual agencies you are interested in to find if their approach is right for you regardless of their size!
Next week we’ll give aspiring Quallies some tips about Getting A Graduate Job In Qualitative Market Research!