Careers in Consumer Insights

Shivangi Sharma

Shivangi Sharma

Staff Writer

What does it mean to be in consumer insights? 

Consumer Insights studies the customers, determining why consumers will buy a product and whether it is feasible to make it happen. Pursuing a career in consumer insights would mean arriving at solutions based on customer data and market trends. Understanding the customer’s needs to drive the company’s growth requires strong critical analysis, problem-solving skills, and some technical skills to derive data-driven decisions. 

To learn more about careers in consumer insights for current students at Thunderbird, I interviewed a Tbird Alumna, Michelle Gansle. I learned a few things about consumer insights that I would like to share in this article. Michelle grew up in the US, started her career with AIESEC, and then earned her Master’s in International Business and Marketing from Thunderbird. She then went on to gain experience in different companies before she landed on Mars, Europe, and now she’s working at Mcdonald’s as VP of Global Insights and Analytics.

Here is how it went:

What skills are relevant in current times for candidates seeking careers in insights and analytics?

Consumer Insights means asking the right questions about consumer behavior, keeping in mind the capabilities of the company, i.e., the operations behind it. For this, coordination between left and right side brain activities is needed. Candidates should not be afraid of numbers, spreadsheets, data, and technology. Comfort with how technology works to understand the data-driven decision-making process involving AI models matters.

You worked in Consumer Insights for a consumer brand in a country that you didn’t grow up in. How did you navigate that?

The key to Consumer Insights is curiosity and asking the right questions. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the data is an important skill to have. What drives your success is your curiosity to know why a consumer behaves in a certain way.

As you work with data, you would often encounter problems such as a lack of data and other problems related to the use of data. How do you deal with that?

Lack of data is a big problem, but understanding the problem matters. Once you know what the problem is, tailing it back to data and finding a solution is the ideal way to use technology.

From your LinkedIn profile, it is quite clear that you are good at building and maintaining relationships. It is also highly emphasized in Thunderbird to make connections. Can you highlight how it has helped you in your career?

Meeting people at conferences and events helps a lot. Building connections inside the company helps get work done informally, leading to increased efficiency in workflow. And making connections outside the company with businesspeople helps in solving problems by gaining other people’s perspectives.

Many students at Thunderbird aspire to be in Marketing and don’t have much experience. How would you suggest they get into big global companies?

Big companies require experience mostly.

  • What helps in such cases is networking.
  • Other things that you can do is work for the supplier companies in advertising and marketing. 
  • Work at a growing company to work your way up.

What do you read or listen to for trends in marketing and consumer behavior that you would suggest Tbirds read?

That’s a good question. I read magazines that are more into my industry or business, such as QSR magazines. I also listen to some general podcasts on business.

From the interview, it can be concluded that curiosity and asking the right questions matter. These questions lead to the identification of problems leading to finding data-driven solutions. If you are someone with less work experience and facing challenges in finding jobs in the US, look for roles on the supply side of things, such as working for a marketing agency, so that you gain the experience needed to work in bigger companies.

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