Have you ever wondered why a particular product is sitting on the shelf of your favorite retailer? Who decided that anyone would want to buy it? Why does it cost what it does, and who decided that advertising it in a particular way would appeal to you and other consumers out there?
Market research analysts help companies figure out what to sell, who will buy their products and services, and how to promote them.
To help them make these decisions, they design surveys that are used to help discover potential customers' preferences. Then these marketing professionals train and supervise interviewers who conduct the surveys online, by telephone, or through interviews with individuals or focus groups.
- Market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $62,150 in 2015.
- In 2014 there were approximately 496,000 people employed in this occupation.
- They work in a variety of industries. Many do market research directly for their own employers. Others work for consulting firms that specialize in providing this service to other companies.
- Most market research analysts work full-time, during regular business hours. Overtime is often required.
- The job outlook for this occupation is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment will grow much more quickly than the average for all occupations through 2024, and thus classifies it as a "Bright Outlook Occupation."
Job Duties and Responsibilities
- "Manage all aspects of marketing research projects including identifying objectives, designing methodology, creating questionnaires or polls, implementing and analyzing research and reporting results"
- "Collaborates with cross functional marketing and product management teams to establish and refine business cases that support the offering definition, revenue forecast, business case, and go-to-market value case"
- "Translates data into summaries and analysis with conclusions that deliver on objectives and support proactive insights and recommendations"
- "Uploads summaries of critical information identified to company database, and ensures the data is readily available to all parties within the company"
- "Analyze existing data and incorporate into marketing strategy"
How To Become a Market Research Analyst
If you want to become a market research analyst, you will need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in marketing research or a related discipline like statistics or math. Regardless of what degree you decide to pursue, your coursework should include business, marketing, statistics, mathematics, and survey design. Some jobs may require a master's degree.
If you wish, you can apply for certification from the Marketing Research Association. It is optional and based on achieving a certain level of education and experience. You must renew your certification every two years, which will require taking continuing education classes.
What Soft Skills Do You Need?
To be successful as a marketing research analyst, you must have certain soft skills, or personal qualities. They are:
- Verbal Communication: Excellent speaking skills will allow you to present the results of your research to clients and colleagues.
- Listening: Strong listening skills are essential to understanding your clients' needs and the scope of the projects on which you are working.
- Writing: You must be able to present written reports of your research.
- Reading Comprehension: You will have to be able to understand a large number of documents, including research reports and survey responses.
- Critical Thinking: As a marketing research analyst, you will have to decide between different strategies to market products. Your ability to compare and contrast different approaches in order to make an educated decision is essential.
- Problem Solving: You must be able to detect problems, and come up with solutions.
- Analytical Skills: Your research will yield a lot of data that you must be able to analyze, understand, and from which you must draw conclusions. This part of your job will also require you to be detail oriented.
After getting experience assisting more seasoned market research analysts, you will be assigned to your own projects. If you want to advance to a more responsible position, you will have to take continuing education courses to keep up with the newest methods of developing, conducting, and analyzing surveys and other data. Earning an advanced degree is also helpful.
What Will Employers Expect From You?
We again took a look at job announcements on Indeed.com to see what they are looking for in applicants. Here's what we found:
- "Ability to learn quickly and willingness to help out wherever needed"
- "Expertise with Excel, PowerPoint, and Office related software"
- "Ability to articulate complex concepts into language that can be understood by business partners"
- "Proven ability to manage multiple projects."
- "Maintain a high level of flexibility and adaptability, reacting to changes and delivering solid results with the appropriate level of urgency at all times"
- "Strong project management, prioritization, and organizational skills"
Is This Career a Good Fit for You?
- Holland Code: IEC (Investigative, Enterprising, Conventional)
- MBTI Personality Types: ENFP, ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP (Tieger, Paul D., Barron, Barbara, and Tieger, Kelly. (2014) Do What You Are. NY: Hatchette Book Group.)
Take this quiz: Should You Become a Market Research Analyst?
Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks
|Description||Annual Salary (2015)||Educational Requirements|
|Buyer||Buys goods and services for a business or organization||$52,940||Bachelor's degree in business, finance, or supply management|
|Fundraiser||Raises money for organizations through events and fundraising campaigns||$52,970||Bachelor's degree|
|Consults with businesses to improve their efficiency or increase profits||$81,320||M.B.A.|
|Logistician||Help companies manage their supply chains (the process of getting goods to customers)||$74,260||Bachelor's degree in business, systems engineering, or supply chain management|
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited December 21, 2016).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited December 21, 2016).