Melanie Courtright on guiding the insights industry through change

On our “Now that's significant” market research podcast, we were joined by Melanie Courtright who serves as the CEO at the Insights Association, the leading voice, resource and network for the market research and data analytics community here in the United States. Melanie has spent 30 years designing executing and interpreting research for agencies and corporations, while leading the industry as a voice for quality trends and the next generation of data collection. As leader of the Insights Association, Melanie leads the organization’s mission to protect, connect, inform and promote its member brands, agencies and individuals.

Melanie started off by discussing the biggest trends she’s seeing in the insights space, and some of the programs that the association has launched to address challenges and trends. First, she talked about the impact of generative AI on the insights space; how many people are using it and excited about it but also many who are nervous about the implications of it. There’s a lot that is going into the discussion surrounding AI, including how to define it clearly all the way to preparing for upcoming legislation. She says, “It's very, very cool, but there is also a lot to be careful of, there are a lot of concerns, including legal concerns…That’s what we’re spending a lot of time on right now.” The Insights Association is formalizing task forces surrounding the various aspects AI, and will be writing an AI code, in addition to the AI “Point of View” they’ve already issued, which covers key legal considerations and recommendations for members.

She then dove into some of the organization’s key initiatives, such as the Ideator Apprenticeship program, which includes 12-month paid, remote working apprenticeship program for diverse college graduates, vocational or early career professionals who are seeking to learn, explore, and gain practical real work experience within the insights industry. They are wrapping up their first full year of the program and the first apprentices are landing full-time jobs.

Melanie went on to touch on other programs that fall under the Insights Association pillars of “connect, protect, inform and promote.” She covered the group’s upcoming new leadership conference beind held August 1-3 in Chicago; a new directory product for company listings – including being able to search for things like woman-owned and minority-owned companies; some of the volunteer opportunities that they have; and their brand-new U.S. market report, which tracks the health of the industry in detail in the U.S. region; and other reports covering compensation and a census study that tracks the diversification of the space. She says that these reports represent large, important studies that will help “tell us how we're doing in terms of growth, but also in terms of just being a good profession to work for.”

One of the biggest things that the Insights Association is addressing right now has to do with data quality in the market research industry, and they have partnered with global industry associations to help make a difference in this critical area of the profession. Each association has a different work stream that ties into data quality, and as a group they will bring everything together to elevate the standards of quality (visit for more).

We also asked Melanie how people could become more involved with the work the Insights Association is doing. She said volunteering at events, becoming involved in various committees, or even looking at joining the board (either at the national or local level) can all be good options. She said “we know this is an industry of people and the strength of this industry is all about the people.”

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