Frank-Thomas Naether is founder and 100% company shareholder.
When still at school he acquired initial market research experience from helping out in his father’s company. After completing studies in social and economic history in June 1993 he started his own market research and consultancy business, Naether Marktforschung GmbH, based in Hamburg.
BIOGRAPHY OF A QUALITATIVE MARKET RESEARCHER
Now I can look back on almost 30 years in market research. In all honesty, moving into it was no big step: my father had his own successful research business and my mother was deputy manager of market research in a large German publishing house, so contact with the subject matter was inevitable.
Market research from bottom to top: Copying and stapling questionnaires, preparing material for studio tests, the first self-conducted interviews whilst still at school, supervising studio logistics, first evaluation and analysis in quant, soon later moderation and report. Jobbing also in other market research companies whilst at school and university.
During the whole period of studying a less than typical subject for the business category and parallel to my interests in music (bass guitar) I was drawn successively into qualitative market research, gaining valuable experience through more regular moderation of focus groups on all possible subjects.
What fascinated me most was exploration into human behaviour and motivation, and the many dimensions of these coming to light in analysis. Qualitative market research never ‚happens‘ in a static framework. What makes this branch of market research so dynamic and challenging is the requirement for a networked approach, where both psychological and social aspects play a role.
On completing my studies the most interesting perspective for me was to set up my own market research business. That is precisely what I did and 17 years later what remains the professional focus of my life.
Important for my personal development and self-image as a qualitative market researcher was the good fortune I had of dealing with many international clients. This more or less forced me to take a look at Germany as a market from a different perspective. I had to be more critical on the one side, and pay attention to its peculiarity and diversity on the other. Influence and ideas from market researchers specifically from the United Kingdom left a clear impression:
- openness to new and unusual methods and approaches
- higher regard for qualitative methods in general, without losing sight of the limits to this discipline
- correct weighting given to qualitative research in the overall context
Aside from visiting ESOMAR workshops and conferences, as well as exchanges with colleagues at home and abroad, I have not attended specific training courses. The methods I choose are mostly based on personal experience gained from numerous projects over many years. In my view there is nothing to beat practical experience.
Throughout the years as manager of my own company, also with responsibility for a small staff, part of one’s philosophy is certain to rub off. But it has never been forced. Like in many other areas of life, the most important thing is a passion for the job. Following this comes the development of a feeling for markets (obviously necessitating awareness and continual observation) and here a conscious emphasis on markets (in plural), since behavioural patterns always reflect the interaction of very diverse factors. Openness to new (methodical) ideas and influences is the next important facet.
Last, but not least, it’s all about finding that one path, the right path, that takes you forward.
- You can download my CV here
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