Market research analysts help companies understand what products people want, how much they will pay for them, and who will buy them. They research the market conditions in a geographic area, as well as information on sales, prices, competitors, distribution, and marketing. These consumer-focused professionals use their understanding of supply and demand and purchasing preferences when collecting information in the form of surveys, questionnaires and opinion polls. Collection is then followed by analysis. Based on complex data, market research analysts churn out reports on sales trends, consumer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits, and they present the findings in an understandable way for clients.
Sometimes, market research analysts research competitors to determine an organization’s position in the marketplace. By comparing the data from different organizations, they are able to identify differences between the demographics or market penetration for each organization. The reports generated through their research can be used by the marketing department to target their existing and potential consumers. It can also be used by product teams who need to better understand the needs of their market so they can create more useful products.
Education and Certification
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for most entry level market research analyst positions. People in this occupation come from many different academic backgrounds, but most major in statistics, mathematics, business administration, and economics. Regardless of your major, taking courses in economics, statistics, marketing, and sociology can be very beneficial. All of these subjects have real world applications in market research.
Equally important as one’s degree is the fulfillment of an internship in market research. This is not a prerequisite to landing a job in this field, but it may increase your chance as most employers prefer candidates with some experience. Internships can help you develop your market research experience by learning the ropes from more experienced professionals. At the end of your internship, you’ll have relevant experience to help you decide if a career in Market Research is the right choice for you. Some of these internships are on a volunteer basis, meaning no pay, while others are paid.
The majority of the market research internships require those with excellent written and verbal communication, as well as a high degree of computer competency for inputting the research data. The website: http://www.internships.com/market-research has an extensive listing of these positions available throughout the U.S..
For those with ambitions to advance to senior management in this vocation, then a master’s degree should be a serious consideration. Again, programs in mathematics, computer science and business administration are recommended at the graduate level.
There is a Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) offered by the Marketing Research Association for those interested. A minimum of three years relevant industry experience is necessary and the applicant must pass an exam. The certification may be renewed every two years with no examination needed.
Market research analysts earned a median salary of $60,300 in 2012, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The best-paid earned more than $113,500 while the lowest-paid earned less than $33,280. The BLS projects the growth rate to be 32% through 2022 with an employment change of 131,500 jobs. Software publishers, aerospace manufacturing and the federal executive branch of the government are sectors that pay market research analysts particularly well.
Ken Roberts, president of the San Francisco-based marketing research company Cooper Roberts Research has stated that the job requires understanding emotion and logic. The collection of data and thinking about it critically is both logical and quantifiable. The emotion is gauging why a target audience might be attracted to the particular product.
This could be the ideal profession for those wishing to combine math with psychology. The mathematical application is the collection and interpolation of the data; the psychology is interpreting the data as it relates to decisions people make.