A popular area of business studies is marketing, but students considering this major need to understand some distinctions about the field. Marketing encompasses all of the different activities involved in promoting organizations, services and products. One important and often-mentioned aspect of marketing is market research. While both market research and marketing strategy are important for a successful marketing campaign, they are two different aspects of promoting a business, according to The Houston Chronicle. Market research analysis has to do with assessing and interpreting data to guide business and marketing decisions, while marketing strategy involves the planning and implementation of marketing campaigns, including the promotional materials used in those campaigns.
Marketing vs. Market Research Curricula
Although the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a bachelor’s degree in market research is the typical education for market research analysts, few business schools offer market research as a standalone major. Instead, the subject is frequently offered as a concentration or specialization within a business marketing degree program. Other potential specializations in a marketing degree program include digital marketing, international marketing, marketing communications, sport management, sales management and general marketing.
In an undergraduate degree program in marketing, students typically take classes in consumer behavior and psychology, strategic marketing, retail merchandising and management, marketing management and business to business marketing. A course in marketing research is another common requirement for marketing majors, but that one class may be all the coursework students take unless they declare marketing research as a specialization. Within a marketing research concentration, students will typically take classes that help them to develop their analytical skills, including business analytics, web analytics and customer relationship management.
Whether you prefer to work in the market research side or the marketing strategy side of this field, you should also expect to complete core business classes in subjects like management, accounting, finance, economics and business law.
Jobs for Marketing and Market Research Majors
When it comes to career options in marketing and marketing research, job responsibilities are the primary factor that distinguish these two fields. The BLS reports an overall median wage of $70,960 for market research analysts and marketing specialists, but a somewhat lower $63,120 median salary for market research analysts alone.
The work of a market research analyst revolves around data. A detail-oriented personality and excellent analytical and critical-thinking skills are among the most important qualities you can have for this career, according to the BLS. Through the use of statistical analysis techniques and software, market research analysts figure out – through calculations and interpretation – what products would perform well in sales, who is likely to buy them and how much the company will be able to charge.
All of these points serve as guiding principles to the marketing personnel whose job is instead to develop marketing strategies and advertising materials. While marketing specialists should have good analytical skills – especially since market research could be one part of their job duties – they also need strong skills in communication, creativity, teamwork and project management.
Marketing managers, senior-level marketing personnel who supervise marketing specialists and oversee marketing strategies and campaigns, earn a median wage of $134,290, according to the BLS.
Which Degree Option Is Right for You?
If you’re not sure which marketing career path to pursue, give some thought to your strengths, your weaknesses and your interests. If you love the challenge of devising creative sales messages and you dread the monotonous task of analyzing data, you are unlikely to find much job satisfaction in the work as a market research analyst.
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On the other hand, if the pressure to come up with a winning strategy makes you feel more anxious than excited, then a marketing specialist role outside of the market research field might not fit your personality. Similarly, if you would rather work with numbers than with designs, sales copy and teammates, market research analyst may be a more suitable career path. Both jobs are crucial to effective marketing promotions.
Pay attention to how you feel about your college courses in creative and analytical subjects, because the classes are some of the first indicators of how you would feel working in these areas. An internship can also help you decide what area of marketing you most enjoy.