Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.                        

Duties

Market research analysts typically do the following:

  • Monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies
  • Devise and evaluate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, questionnaires, and opinion polls
  • Gather data about consumers, competitors, and market conditions
  • Analyze data using statistical software
  • Convert complex data and findings into understandable tables, graphs, and written reports
  • Prepare reports and present results to clients and management

Market research analysts perform research and gather data to help a company market its products or services. They gather data on consumer demographics, preferences, needs, and buying habits. They collect data and information using a variety of methods, such as interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, market analysis surveys, public opinion polls, and literature reviews.

Analysts help determine a company’s position in the marketplace by researching their competitors and analyzing their prices, sales, and marketing methods. Using this information, they may determine potential markets, product demand, and pricing. Their knowledge of the targeted consumer enables them to develop advertising brochures and commercials, sales plans, and product promotions. 

Market research analysts evaluate data using statistical techniques and software. They must interpret what the data means for their client, and they may forecast future trends. They often make charts, graphs, and other visual aids to present the results of their research. 

Workers who design and conduct surveys are known as survey researchers.

Work Environment: 

Market research analysts held about 415,700 jobs in 2012. Because most industries use market research, these analysts are employed throughout the economy. 

The industries employing the most market research analysts in 2012 were as follows:

Finance and insurance 10%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 10
Wholesale trade 9
Management of companies and enterprises 9
Manufacturing 8

Some market research analysts research trends for the company for which they work. Others work for consulting firms that do market research for many different clients.

Those who hold full-time jobs in government, business, or teaching also may consult on a part-time basis.

Market research analysts generally work alone at a computer, collecting and analyzing data and preparing reports. Some, however, work directly with the public to collect information and data. 

Work Schedules

Most market research analysts work full time during regular business hours. Some, however, work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, which may require longer hours.

Education and Training: 

Most market research analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree. Top research positions often require a master’s degree. Strong math and analytical skills are essential.         

Education

Market research analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in market research or a related field. Many have degrees in fields such as statistics, math, and computer science. Others have backgrounds in business administration, the social sciences, or communications.

Courses in statistics, research methods, and marketing are essential for these workers. Courses in communications and social sciences, such as economics, psychology, and sociology, are also important.

Some market research analyst jobs require a master’s degree. Several schools offer graduate programs in marketing research, but many analysts complete degrees in other fields, such as statistics and marketing, and/or earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA). A master’s degree is often required for leadership positions or positions that perform more technical research.   

Other Experience

Most market research analysts can benefit from internships or work experience in business, marketing, or sales. Work experience in other positions that require analyzing data, writing reports, or surveying or collecting data can also be helpful in finding a market research position. 

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is voluntary, but analysts may pursue certification to demonstrate a level of professional competency. The Marketing Research Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) for market research analysts. Candidates qualify based on experience and knowledge; they must pass an exam, be a member of a professional organization, and have at least 3 years working in opinion and marketing research.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Market research analysts must be able to understand large amounts of data and information. 

Communication skills. Market research analysts need strong communication skills when gathering information, interpreting data, and presenting results to clients. 

Critical-thinking skills. Market research analysts must assess all available information to determine what marketing strategy would work best for a company.

Detail oriented. Market research analysts must be detail oriented because they often do precise data analysis.

Pay: 

The median annual wage for market research analysts was $60,300 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,280, and the top 10 percent earned more than $113,500. 

In May 2012, the median annual wages for market research analysts in the top five industries in which these analysts worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $67,550
Management of companies and enterprises 67,330
Finance and insurance 64,490
Wholesale trade 60,200
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 56,760

Most market research analysts work full time during regular business hours. Some, however, work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, which may require long hours.

Job Outlook: 

Employment of market research analysts is projected to grow 32 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth will be driven by an increased use of data and market research across all industries—to understand the needs and wants of customers and to measure the effectiveness of marketing and business strategies.

Companies increasingly use research on consumer behavior to develop improved marketing strategies. By doing so, companies are better able to market directly to their target population. In addition, market research provides companies and organizations with an opportunity to cut costs. 

Market research also lets companies monitor customer satisfaction and gather feedback about how to improve products or services, allowing companies to build an advantage over their competitors. They may use research to decide the location of stores, placement of products, and services offered. As more companies use research to develop marketing strategies, competing companies will likely engage in similar market research. 

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects for market research analysts are expected to be good. Rapid employment growth in most industries means good job opportunities should be available. 

Job prospects should be best for those with a master’s degree in market research, marketing, statistics, or business administration. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree are expected to face strong competition for jobs.

Those with a strong background in statistical and data analysis or related work experience will have better job opportunities than those without it.

For More Information: 

For more information about market research analysts, visit

Council of American Survey Research Organizations

Marketing Research Association

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.