I've recently been engaged in learning about service aspects, and quality of immaterial and transient transactions. These are thing that are consumed often in-place, and whose production can only quite scantly prepare for peaks in demand - as well as lack of demand.
I want to create some original material. By original I mean that my primary means of producing a model are my eyes, ears, and brain. I go out into malls, take paper and pen with me, and make observations. Then on, the models will be shaped into more sophisticated ones; I will integrate theory from authors in the field, and from folks who either produce or use the services. This kind of ad-hoc research is extremely interesting.
A book I received about 7-8 years ago, a leftover "Entrepreneurship" by Hisrich and Peters, made me put up a company. It really was the book that inspired me enough to try my own wings. I did 4 years of IT consultancy with the sole proprietorship, and it was a trip unprecedented. I really enjoyed seeing the whole of what information technology does.
The information technology remains as a good tool. For hobby purposes and also to keep the hands-on-feeling of programming, I learn Ruby currently. Ruby seems to be both fascinating as a language itself, but also compact, English-looking in grammar, and powerful in expression. I heard that it has its flaws also, or let's say not necessarily flaws but weak points: the program's physical structure, files and directories, are very accurately dictated.
Marketing research traditionally means some kind of handouts or mailing campaigns. In the ultimate, automated high-tech version market research would be done by almost passive signal processing alone (reading how people actually behave). In between there's what I see the realistic mix of means; not too intrusive, but inquisitive enough to enable the research issuer also direct focus on certain issues.