Market Research Analyst  What They Do

Just the Facts

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists Career Video

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dotEvery time you swipe a membership card at a grocery store or click a "Like" button on Facebook, you're making a market researcher smile. With these and many other actions every day, you're sharing information that can be analyzed in order to understand what you might like to buy.

Market researchers collect, analyze and interpret data on consumer preferences and public attitudes towards issues. Businesses and other organizations use this data for important decisions. These decisions could include how and to whom to market their product or service, where to open a new location, or the overall feeling of the public toward a certain political issue.

dotMarket researchers may be employed full time by a business or organization to carry out market research specifically for that company. They might work for a large firm that provides services to clients on a contract basis. Market researchers may also work for themselves as consultants, taking on clients as a small business.

dotThere are two main areas in marketing research, says Subbu Sivaramakrishnan. He's an associate professor of marketing and a market research consultant.

"One is the more qualitative kind of research," says Sivaramakrishnan. "For example, conducting focus groups, designing the questionairre, conducting interviews and so on."

Qualitative research involves identifying peoples' preferences and feelings about products and ideas. In a qualitative research study such as a focus group, the market researchers will encourage consumers to discuss a product or issue that a client wants information about.

"The other area is the quantitative side of research," says Sivaramakrishnan. "This is the number-crunching side. Now, when you are on the number-crunching side, you're not interacting with consumers and respondents. Most of your work might be done sitting at a computer and running statistical analyses on the data that's been collected and making sense out of it."

The researchers who crunch numbers are sometimes called marketing analysts or marketing analytics specialists.

"To be successful in it, you have to be able to not only look at raw data and interpret what it means -- not everybody can do that," says Sherry Schneider. She's a market research and data analytics recruiter in Detroit.

"You do have to be able to find meaning out of numbers, in raw data, so that's where the analytics side comes," Schneider says. "If you're a problem solver and you like math... that kind of person would succeed in market research or market analytics."

dotMarket researchers also design ways to collect the data they need. They may design telephone or e-mail surveys. Most researchers carry out a blend of these types of duties.

"A good sense of logic is key for a career in market research -- being able to construct survey questions or conduct interviews in a way that follows a natural progression and is presented in a clear, coherent manner," says Tom Bernthal, CEO and founder of Kelton Research.

dotThe day-to-day work of a market researcher can be pretty hectic. There are no set hours and work can happen around any kind of schedule. You might be running surveys on weekends at the mall, or supervising a focus group at night when subjects are free to attend. Travel is often part of a researcher's life -- the amount of traveling you do will depend on your specialty.

Most market researchers work in offices and, in many cases, they work alone preparing reports or analyzing data. But they may also work as part of a research team. They often have the pressure of working under deadlines and within tight schedules.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Collect, analyze and interpret data on consumer preferences and public attitudes

  • Work can happen around any kind of schedule
  • Most market researchers work in offices
  • You'll need a university degree or diploma in any discipline as well as a strong background in information technology