Market research analysts assist companies in understanding the types of products that consumers want and determine who would purchase them and at what price. Job responsibilities include methods of marketing and distribution, sales, gathering statistical data for competitors, examining prices and analyzing data for prior sales in order to predict sales. Other responsibilities include devising procedures and methods for gathering the data needed by creating surveys for assessing consumer preferences. Many surveys are conducted via the Internet or the telephone. Other methods might include mail responses, focus group discussions or setting up booths for gathering responses in public places like shopping malls.
Market Research Job Responsibilities
Researchers may also gather information about consumers and their opinions while working for many different types of companies including government agencies, corporations and political candidates. Researchers may also conduct opinion research in order to determine the attitudes of the public on a variety of issues. The results of such research can help business or political leaders measure available public support for social policies and electoral prospects.
Market and survey researchers and analysts typically have very structured work schedules. It is not unusual to work alone while preparing statistical charts and writing reports. In some instances they may also work as part of a research team. Researchers who perform personal interviews frequently make contact with the public. They commonly work under pressure and must meet tight deadlines. This may involve overtime in order to meet deadlines. Travel is often necessary.
Market and survey analysts usually spend a significant amount of time performing very precise data analysis. Therefore, attention to detail is crucial. Persistence and patience are also important qualities. It is also important to be able to work well with others, especially the public. Communications skills are critical. Individuals interested in this type of career must be comfortable with working with others, including speaking with the public and conducting interviews and surveys; both in person and over the telephone.
The largest number of market research analysts is employed by technical, scientific and management consulting services. Others may be employed by computer systems design services, management companies and insurance carriers. The employment outlook for this career field is expected to grow faster than average for all other occupations. Job opportunities will be best for those with either a master’s degree or PhD. in marketing or in social science. Individuals with a background in social science or consumer behavior may be able to quality for positions that are less technical in nature.
Analysts and researchers may work a regular schedule; however, if they are employed within certain sectors such as the government or by political leaders they may need to meet tight deadlines. In that case overtime may be necessary.
Market Research Training and Education Requirements
A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for market and survey research jobs at the entry-level. For advancement or positions that are more technical in nature higher degrees may be required. Keep current regarding the latest methods of conducting, developing and analyzing surveys are important to this type of work. Strong quantitative skills are also important in order to succeed within this career field.
Individuals interested in this type of work should complete courses in marketing, business and consumer behavior along with courses in economics, statistics, mathematics, survey design, sampling theory and computer science. It is also important for people interested in this career field to gain experience in gathering and analyzing data, conducting surveys or interviews and writing reports. This type of experience can be valuable in gaining a full time position in this career field.
Market Research Salary and Wages
In 2008 the median annual wages of research analysts were $61,070. Wages and salaries typically increase with experience and with advanced education and certification.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Market Research Certifications
Most market research analysts will begin their careers by helping others before they are assigned independent projects. Once they gain experience, advanced degrees and continuing education they may be able to advance to positions that are more responsible. Some research analysts with experience may opt to teach. A master’s degree is usually required to teach as an instructor in a junior or community college. Most colleges and universities require professors to have a Ph.D. as well as extensive academic journal publication experience in order to gain tenure and promotion. Others may advance to managerial or supervisory positions with experience and advanced education.
Certification can be helpful in advancing within this occupation. A certification program is offered through the Marketing Research Association for professional researchers. This certification is offered for two different levels of knowledge; expert and practitioner. Before gaining certification, candidates must meet certain criteria; typically experience and education. They must also have prior membership in a minimum of one professional marketing research organization. Individuals who have achieved the PRC designation must meet continuing education requirements within their specific discipline. They must also apply to renew their certification every two years. Continuing education requirements must be met in order to renew certification.
Market Research Professional Associations
Professional associations for market researchers include:
- Marketing Research Association
- Council of American Survey Research Organizations