Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Longtime Market Researcher Gives Entrepreneurship a Shot

Submitted: 11/17/2009 10:52:45
  • AMA's Marketing News profiles UC MBA/MS Marketing Alum Dennis Devlin.

This article appears with permission of the American Marketing Association.

WHO: Dennis Devlin

NEW ROLE: Founder, President & CEO of Consumer Clarity, Cincinnati

START DATE: September 2009

FORMERLY: Most recently, Devlin was a senior account director at GfK Custom Research North America in Cincinnati, where he managed research for the Procter & Gamble account. Previously, Devlin worked at Sigma Research Management Group and Marketing Research Services Inc., both in Cincinnati; at Horizon Research International Inc. in Louisville, Ky.; and as an independent research consultant. Devlin also has served as an adjunct instructor of marketing research at the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University.

AMA member since 1984.

Cincinnati is a haven of marketing research, says Dennis Devlin, with one company leading the way in innovative thinking: The Procter & Gamble Co. Devlin speaks from experience.

A career marketing researcher and a 25-year member of the American Marketing Association, Devlin has built a broad base of experience and depth of knowledge?not only quantitative and qualitative research, but also client services, consulting, analytics, project management, account management, business development, sales and personnel development?working at research firms large and small in Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. He added an M.B.A. in 2005 and M.S. in marketing in 2006 from the University of Cincinnati to his academic pedigree.

"[The M.B.A.] has, quite honestly, been a tremendous boost in my career, and the M.S. is the cherry on top of the sundae, so to speak," Devlin says. Savvy networking and good old gumption have since turned that cherry-topped sundae into a banana split with all of the fixings.

At the 2006 AMA Marketing Research Conference in Chicago, Devlin introduced himself to a fellow attendee and just six months later, he was offered his dream job. "The pinnacle of my career, what I'd been working toward, was the opportunity to work with Procter & Gamble," Devlin says. Thanks to that impromptu networking, Devlin found himself doing just that?as a senior account director for GfK Custom Research North America in Cincinnati. Starting in spring 2007, Devlin headed up GfK research for P&G, working with brands such as Pampers and Charmin, he says.

Unfortunately, after about a year and a half, Devlin succumbed to a round of GfK layoffs. "It's challenging, certainly. You have to reassess and say, ?OK, what do I want to do next?' " he says. One of the hardest parts for him was the lack of control he suddenly had over his career. "Believe it or not, they did not ask for my opinion when they [laid me off] because I would have disagreed!" he laughs.

Devlin dove into networking, all the while thinking in the back of his mind, "What about starting my own business?" That thinking soon materialized into a plan of action and Devlin set out to launch his own marketing research firm, Consumer Clarity, earlier this year.

The company is still getting off the ground, Devlin says, but he plans for it to be a boutique research firm that offers project management and consultation; mentoring and training opportunities; and informational marketing. Devlin is working to develop partnerships with other market-ers and researchers to add supplemental services to his business and cross-promote. "Whenever you start a business, it's a bit of a leap of faith," Devlin says, but he feels ready for entrepreneurship.

"You have to recognize what you're good at and what you enjoy doing. I mean, I'm having so much fun with this that it's almost criminal."

Dennis can be reached at

American Marketing Association
Marketing News
October 15, 2009 edition