Market researchers are commissioned by clients to collect and analyse data and make recommendations based upon their findings.
A market researcher may be employed by a company or business which uses market research as part of its regular operations (usually large companies in core industry groups such as retail), or by specialist consultancy firms, which are commissioned to conduct research by organisations in government, private and non-profit sectors.
Market research can be quantitative or qualitative, with some projects combining both. Quantitative research involves collecting numerical data and using mathematical and statistical modelling to interpret and report conclusions.
Qualitative research, on the other hand, involves collecting ideas, opinions, consumer behaviour, likes and dislikes, perceptions and attitudes on subjects which are the focus of market research activities.
These guys’ responsibilities include understanding client requirements with respect to the project’s objectives, formats and approach.
They will create a project plan, define the scope, tools and methodologies to be used, set up a project schedule, manage data collectors and interviewers and prepare data collection templates. The market researchers will then coordinate the conversion of data into a format which is convenient for analysis, and prepare reports on findings, before interpreting them and making final recommendations.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for market researchers with only a few years’ experience range between £15,000 and £30,000. With up to ten years’ experience you can earn between £30,000 and £50,000, while salaries of £40,000 to £75,000 or higher are available to those with more than 10 years’ experience.
Benefits include pensions, incentives for meeting project deadlines or soliciting new business, and insurance. Self-employment is a lucrative option for experienced and qualified market researchers.
Working hours tend to be irregular for field researchers, but remain standard for office-based researchers and analysts. Market researchers need to be flexible about mobility, since a fair amount of travel is involved.
Work may be stressful and multi-tasking a useful skill, since market research is driven by short deadlines and the urgency to publish or highlight results before the competition gets ahead!
While there are no fixed academic qualifications for market researchers, a graduate degree or diploma in economics, mathematics, statistics, finance and other similar subjects is usually preferable.
Candidates also need to be articulate communicators, and have excellent people skills, innovative logic, commercial awareness and adaptability in a dynamic work environment.
Training & progression
Training and development for market researchers is mainly ‘on-the-job’ and ad hoc, though large or MNC (multinational corporation) employers may run a structured graduate programme. Professional qualifications and vocational courses are offered by a variety of professional practice and industry bodies.
These include a three year work placement scheme conducted by the Market Research Society (MRS), entry-level and advanced courses from the Association of Qualitative Research (AQR) and courses conducted by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Professional growth is fast-paced and well-defined, but driven by exceptional performance and individual skills and contributions. Entry-level market researchers can grow into senior researchers, account managers and account directors for large companies and consulting firms engaged in public relations, consumer and market research and associated activities.