Market research analysts analyze statistical data on past products or services in order to determine the potential sales of a new product or service. They devise methods to obtain data on competitors, and design telephone, mail, or Internet surveys to assess consumer product preferences. They conduct in-person surveys by going door-to-door, leading focus groups, or setting up booths in public places. They usually supervise trained interviewers who conduct the actual interviewing. After they having compiled date from the surveys, they evaluate the data and present their findings and recommendations to their company’s management. Management then uses this information to make decisions on promotion, distribution, design, and pricing. Or the information may be used to determine whether or not to add new lines of merchandise, open new branches, or diversify the company’s operations. Some market research analysts design advertising brochures and commercials, sales plans, and product promotions.
Those aspiring to be market research analysts should have excellent verbal and written communication skills because they are constantly required to communicate their findings clearly and concisely. They should be detail-oriented people, able to spend long amounts of time studying precise data analysis. They must be able to work well with a wide variety of people, and they need to be patient and persistent because they spend much time independently solving problems.
In 2002, market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $53,810. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $29,390, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $100,160. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of market research analysts:
- Management of companies and enterprises – $56,750
- Insurance carriers – 46,700
- Other professional, scientific, and technical services – 46,380
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services – 44,580
Training and Education
Most entry-level jobs in the private sector require a master’s degree in business administration, marketing, statistics, or communications. A master’s degree is also essential for advancement to more responsible positions. Some colleges assist students in finding and obtaining internships in government agencies, consulting firms, financial institutions, or marketing research firms prior to graduation. Standard coursework includes courses in business, marketing, and consumer behavior, but courses in economics, psychology, English, and sociology are highly recommended. Courses in mathematics, statistics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science can also be very advantageous. Applicants with bachelor’s degrees may be able to qualify for entry-level positions such as research assistant, administrative or management trainee, marketing interviewer, and salesperson. A Ph.D. is usually required for appointment as an instructor at a college or university, while master’s degrees may suffice for junior and community colleges.
In 2002, market research analysts held about 135,000 jobs. 97 % were employed by private industry. They were employed in almost every industry, but were most numerous in management, scientific, and technical consulting firms, insurance carriers, computer systems design and related firms, software publishers, securities and commodities brokers, and advertising and related firms.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of market research analysts is expected to increase faster than the average. This is due to an increasingly competitive economy, in which quality marketing research can provide a vital edge. Companies will continue to expand and, as a result, will hire more researchers to help them evaluate customer satisfaction and plan for the future. Globalization will also increase demand for market research analysts who can analyze foreign markets and foreign competition. Opportunities will be best for those with master’s degrees. Those with bachelor’s degrees will face keen job competition, and those with Ph.Ds will face strong competition for tenured teaching positions in colleges and universities.