Imagine you work for a clothing company and you have spent the last six months heading a department tasked with expanding into footwear. During this time, you have spent considerable time and effort on creating shoes your department believes will do well in the market and are preparing to launch your products. The only problem is that you are not fully aware of the wants and needs of the consumers you want to sell your shoes to. You ask yourself if you are charging the right price for the shoes. Perhaps their basic design could be altered. Could it be that the shoes could receive better marketing? All these are matters you with to address but your unfamiliarity with the market prevents you from forming a clear picture on what to do. This is where market research analysts come in.
What is a Market Research Analyst?
When corporations launch new products, especially in large geographic areas and wide markets, they are taking on huge risks. The cost of designing and manufacturing goods can be monumental. It makes sense for companies to try to make sure the products they are selling appeal to their target consumers before they send off huge shipments to stores.
Market research analysts are professionals who work to understand consumers and their buying habits. They work collaboratively with others in an effort to study things like buying habits, consumer loyalty, brand preferences, and so on. The information generated by their inquiries is invaluable to corporations wanting to understand how they themselves or their products are doing or going to do in the market and what they could do to improve their standing.
What Does a Market Research Analyst Do?
The duties of a market research analyst are diverse but all revolve around the central idea of gathering and presenting data. This process is arduous and time consuming. Out of necessity, this monumental task is often broken down over time and across multiple people. Together with professionals from other fields of work, market research analysts work to deliver clear information about a product, service, or corporation to designated parties.
When market research analysts are fist tasked with an assignment, they first collect data. Oftentimes, this means designing and administering group polls, setting up focus groups, and distributing questionnaires to test subjects. The purpose of obtaining this data is to generate an understanding of consumer demographics, buying preferences, habits, needs, and any other points of information that could alter the demand of the product. Collecting data this way is not limited to a friendly corporation, however. Often, market research analysts will be tasked with collecting information regarding competing organizations to understand how they attract customers.
Once market research analysts have acquired the data they need, the work with it, employing statistical methods to find meaningful information. These processes frequently necessitate the use of computers and software that depend largely on the type of work they are engaging in. Using these technologies, market research analysts will attempt to find trends, outliers, general measures of center, and so on until they possess an adequate understanding of how the consumers interact with the product they are investigating.
After their analysis is complete, market research analysts will transform their findings using simple-to-grasp illustrations and written text in an effort to convey their findings with relative ease to supervisors, executives, and other persons of interest. All their work culminates in providing corporations with simple information about their position in the marketplace. They may even suggest improvements to their company’s current business practices if they encountered any problematic areas in their research.
What Tools and Technologies are Used by Market Research Analysts?
As mentioned before, market research analysts are responsible for conducting studies on market conditions to determine the likelihood that a product or service will sell. This research depends on a variety of tools and technologies in order to glean the information they need to make informed decisions about the potential success of a product or service. Among the common tools and technologies used are:
Focus groups – Focus groups are an excellent tool that allow research analysts to determine the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of a specific demographic. These groups are usually small – less than 10 people – but group members share a common characteristic such as age, gender, or race.
Surveys and questionnaires– Market research analysts rely on surveys and questionnaires to get quantitative and qualitative data regarding consumer behavior. This might involve sending surveys to individuals that have purchased a product, asking them how they would rate that product. It might also include developing questionnaires to send to potential consumers, asking them specific questions about the features or benefits they look for in a certain product.
Market analysis – A market analysis is an in-depth examination of the market conditions for a particular business venture, product, or service. These analyses help inform market research analysts about the current state of the business or industry, market trends, and consumer characteristics. A market analysis typically includes a competitive analysis of businesses or industries that compete with one another as well.
Spreadsheets – A primary technology used by market research analysts, spreadsheets allow analysts to present their findings in a clear, organized, and graphical manner. Spreadsheets are often used for basic mathematical and statistical functions as well.
Statistical analysis software – Another critical technology used by market research analysts is statistical analysis software. These programs allow analysts to run complex analyses on the data they collect in order to determine how a business should proceed with everything from product development to advertising.
Why Do We Need Market Research Analysts?
The world has become astonishingly linked over the past century. This connectivity has made it possible for businesses to reach more consumers than ever before. Even though this is obviously beneficial to businesses, trying to appeal to large amounts of people can bear significant financial risks. After all, not all people are pleased by the same things. The work of market research analysts helps to give corporations a better understanding of where they stand within a market and customers actually want. This knowledge helps them avoid creating unwanted or unneeded products that would fail to produce sales, thus avoid losing large amounts of money. This helps businesses avoids potential financial catastrophes. Bad financial practices can jeopardize entire corporations.
A blind move on the part of a corporation could leave it in shambles and rob its employees of their livelihoods. Market research analysts help cover these blind spots with researched information.
Where Do Market Research Analysts Work?
There are no shortage of businesses trying to sell goods or services to people all around the world. Market research analysts work with other professionals from a variety of fields for the benefit of non-profit organizations and private businesses.
What are the Requirements to Become a Market Research Analyst?
Market research analysts are expected to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. These degrees can range from a variety of fields, such as statistics, math, computer science and business administration, communication, and so on. These programs vary widely in their contents as they prepare students for a wide range of occupations. Even so, these programs, typically lasting roughly four years, often instill in their students a variety of business practices, mathematical abilities, and communication skills.
It is also possible for students to pursue master’s level educations in psychology, marketing research, and consumer psychology. Much like with bachelor’s level educations, these programs differ considerably. More advanced courses will typically emphasize aspects such as data analysis and working with software programs. The advantage in obtaining a master’s level education over a bachelor’s is that people with the former will often be awarded with more technical research and leadership positions.
Early Career Planning
High school students wishing to become market research analysts should look to take classes that aim to improve skills relevant to this field. This makes classes in English, communication, computer science, mathematics, statistics, and business invaluable. In addition, courses in public speaking and performing arts can aid students develop more confidence while appearing in front of others and hone their delivery of information and overall presentation considerably
There exists agencies, such as the Marketing Research Association, that offer market research analysts with the opportunity to acquire accreditation. The purpose of attaining this accreditation is largely to demonstrate competency in the field. Accreditation programs like this often impose requirements for applicants, such as passing an exam, having a sufficient amount of experience working in opinion and marketing research, and so on. Regardless, obtaining certification of this kind is entirely optional although it can help market research analysts with their career. This is particularly true when searching for a job as certification is often considered to showcase commitment to the field.
What Does it Take to be a Market Research Analyst?
- A naturally curious mind: Much of what market research analysts do revolves around investigating issues. Possessing a mind that wants to learn more about new things will help keep professionals within this field invested in their work.
- Social and communication skills: Market research analysts often need to work collaboratively with others. It is also common for the teams that require the talents and abilities of market research analysts to be composed of people from different fields of work. After completing their investigations, market research analysts must also present their findings to executives and supervisors. In order to be a competent market research analyst, one does not need to be a social butterfly, but possessing the capacity to work with others in a professional environment will help considerably.
- Advanced mathematical abilities: Market research analysts must gather and use data in their work all the time. Having a mind that has an innate ability to quickly learn, understand, and apply mathematics is invaluable for these professionals. A vast understanding of statistics and their presentation is necessary for marker research analysts to competently carry out their duties.
- Having an innate understanding of human behavior: Market research analysts must understand how consumers react to products and how their experiences can be shaped for the better at an intuitive level. When suggesting possible solutions to problems revealed by their investigations, there are often no true right answers. In this way, market research analysis becomes less of a science and more of an art. Possessing an intuitive understanding of how consumers behave aids countless people working in this field make accurate assessments of products and is key to their success.
What are the Disadvantages of Being a Market Research Analyst?
Work opportunities can be inflexible
Although the insight market research analysts can offer businesses is invaluable, the skills learned in this trade do not necessarily translate over to other fields well. In addition, work places do not usually place heavy emphasis on experience of this kind unless their work pertains directly to trying to understand consumer markets. As a result, market research analysts might feel confined to their field of work at times.
It is hard to see how the work of a market research analyst helps others
Spending time trying to further the interests of a large corporation may not register very highly for most people. It is common for people to want to feel as though they are making a difference in the lives of others. Although the work of market research analysts undoubtedly changes business practices all over the world, it can sometimes be hard to see how their work benefits others.
Work in this field can be stressful
Oftentimes, market research analysts are working under strict deadlines. They must have compiled reports about their findings in a timely manner since the launch of various products might hinge on their findings. As a result, the time constraints associated with this work can lead to stress for market research analysts.
How Much Does a Market Research Analyst Make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average yearly salary of market research analysts was $68,700 in 2014. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the salaries in this field range from a whopping $114,250 per year while the lowest earners take home $33,490 per year. The best places of employment for market research analysts, the U.S. News & World Report continues, are on the West Coast in cities such as San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle.
What is the Job Outlook for Market Research Analysts?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment in the field of market research analysis will grow an estimated 33% between 2012 and 2022 due to an increasing need for data and market research from every conceivable industry. This value is much higher than the norm, signaling a fantastic job outlook for potential market research analysts.