Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts work behind the scenes providing companies with the consumer, competitor and industry data, information and analysis they need to identify new consumer groups and effectively market their products and services. Research analysts help companies determine which products will sell, who to sell them to, and how much consumer are willing to pay for them.

Duties performed by market research analysts and marketing specialists include the following:

  • Gather information about consumers
  • Gather information about competitors
  • Provide industry analysis
  • Forecast consumer trends
  • Develop marketing forecasts
  • Develop data gathering strategies, including questionnaires, polls and surveys
  • Keep a pulse on current and future market conditions
  • Analyze data and provide recommendations
  • Present finding to management

The primary responsibility of market research analysts is perform in-depth market research aimed at gathering data that a company can use to make more informed business decisions, specifically relating to product design, development, marketing and sales. Market research analysts collect data about customer preferences, consumer demographics, purchasing patterns, and customer needs. They may also collect data on competitors and competitor products. They collect data using various research methods, including questionnaires, surveys, opinion polls, consumer reviews, and focus groups.

Market research analysts and marketing specialists analyze data to provide the clients and companies they represent with usable information about the marketplace and competitive landscape. Based on their findings, recommendations relating to potential markets, product development, and pricing may be made. Marketing research analysts will go as far as help companies develop targeted advertising campaigns, product launch plans, pricing models, sales promotions, and marketing strategies.

Market research analysts use sophisticated software and statistical techniques to interpret and analyze the data they collect. They also use modeling software to develop forecasts, reports, graphs, charts, and other visual aids to help them communicate their findings and recommendations to the companies they work for or represent.

While many market research analysts work for private industry, some become professors and teachers at universities and community colleges.

Work Environment
There are about 283,000 market research analyst positions in the United States. They are employed in just about every industry, as most companies require market research.

The the majority of market research analysts are employed in the following industries:

Job Sector % Employed
Scientific/Technical services 29%
Finance and insurance 11
Information 8
Wholesale trade 8
Company and enterprise management 8
While most market research analysts are employed as captive agents of the companies that employ them, others work for consulting firms or as independent consultants. Only about 5% of market research analysts in the United States are self employed. Market research analysts work in private business, government, and education.

Market research analysts typically work by themselves in front of a computer, imputing data, analyzing information and generating reports for clients and management. A few market research analysts work outside the office taking surveys, conducting polls, or interacting directly with the public.

How To Become a Market Research Analyst
Most entry-level market research positions require a bachelor's degree in marketing, market research or a related field of study. Students who pursue a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, or computer science will also be prepared for a career in market research and analysis. Students aspiring to a career in market research should take courses in research methods, marketing, math, statistics, communications, economics and social sciences.

While a bachelor's degree will suffice for entry-level positions, more and more companies are seeking analysts with a master's degree or MBA. Graduate degrees are especially useful for analysts seeking leadership or management positions. A master's degree is often required for individuals who plan on being involved in technical market research. For market research analysts desiring to work in education at the university level, a doctoral degree is required.

While a degree is typically sufficient preparation for a career in market research, analysts who want to demonstrate an additional level of competency can earn the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) – a voluntary certification offered by the Marketing Research Association. To qualify for the PRC designation, candidates must have at least three years of market research experience, belong to a professional marketing or research organization, and pass a certification exam. The PRC must be renewed every two years and continuing education is required.

The median salary for market research analysts is approximately $61,000, but experienced analysts can earn over $110,000 a year. Most entry-level market research positions pay about $35,000 to $50,000 a year. Average annual wages for market research analysts are listed below by industry.

Job Sector Pay
Information $70,970
Corporate Management 65,750
Wholesale trade 61,710
Finance and Insurance 61,320
Scientific/Technical services 61,250
Job Outlook
New jobs in market research analysis are projected to grow by 41% through 2020. This is a phenomenal growth rate, considering that the average growth rate for all occupation over the same time period is only 14%. Growth in market research analyst positions will be the result of companies and organizations across all industries recognizing the need for sound market research and analysis in order to stay competitive.

Consumer behavior is increasingly becoming the focus of companies looking for innovative strategies to market their current products and consumer populations to support new product development and sales. Market research and analysis is also viewed as a means for companies to implement cost cutting strategies.

Mark research allows corporations to monitor, evaluate, and analyze customer satisfaction, and come up with new ways of improving their product and service offerings. Companies are increasingly recognizing that market research provides them the opportunity to established and maintain a strategic competitive advantage over other market participants. As more companies employ market research in an attempt to gain advantage over competitors, competing companies will also engage in market research to achieve a similar outcome.

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