Companies need to understand what products people want, and they will buy it at what price? It is the market research analysts who study the market, examine people's needs and report their findings to the companies. In the US, industries and employment sectors rely upon market research to collect and interpret the voluminous data that reflects, determines, and predicts consumer behavior.
Market research analysts conduct studies in local, regional, national and if necessary at international levels to examine the potential sales and service potential of a product. Other than representing the needs of their customers, market research analysts help organizations understand their competitors better. The core function of a market research analyst is to determine which goods and services are in demand; and the optimum rate or price that a manufacturer can charge for these products.
Job responsibilities of a market research analyst
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 'the surveys are a big part of determining what customers want and that market research analysts work to develop and oversee the distribution and completion of these surveys.'
As the New York State's career zone suggests, 'market research analysts can also be responsible for analyzing trends in specific regions'.
Some place the responsibility of market research analyst as 'presenting survey findings to their clients'. This includes complex numerical survey results into a package that is easy to understand. Market research analysts use graphs and text translations of the findings to help clients understand survey results. Tracking client industry trends and general marketing trends are also a market research analyst's responsibility.
Market research analysts gather data based on consumer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits. Their analysis determines a company's marketplace and competitor analysis and helps fix the pricing of a product depending upon product demand. They also develop and prepare brochures and commercials, draw up sales plans and product promotion flyers for the clients.
In addition to the above, market research analysts provide companies and organizations an opportunity to cut costs.
Market research analysts primarily have to work with people, to gather information and data required for their clients. They also need to work with collating and analyzing statistical data and preparing reports. Most of the time, market research analysts work full time during regular business hours, but there could be times when long arduous hours of work to meet deadlines are required.
Market research analysts work for private companies and consulting firms which conduct market research for their clientele. There are about 5% market research analysts who are self employed as on 2010. Sometimes, those who hold full-time jobs, or onto business or teaching, consult on a part-time basis.
Qualifications required of a market research analyst
A strong background in mathematics and analytical ability is required. Courses in statistics, research methods and marketing are essential and courses in communication and social sciences such as economics, psychology and sociology are also important. While most junior positions require a bachelor's degree, top positions call for a master's degree. Ideally, a degree in market research in a related field would be the best option. Some have a background in business administration, social sciences or communications. There are some market research analysts who become professors and teachers in colleges and schools.
For an instructor in a junior or community college, the market research analysts may need a master's degree. A Ph.D. is required to teach in a college or a university. There are several schools that offer graduate programs in marketing research, but most analysts complete degree in statistics, marketing or masters in business administration.
Skills required of a market research analyst
In order for market research analysts to make presentations to clients, they must possess some vital qualities:
Statistical analysis is the core of quantitative research. Based on the methodology of culling data from a large pool of respondents, sufficient data is gathered and analyzed. Derivation of a numerical average estimating the opinions and behavior of the surveyed population is also done.
Instead of extracting small amounts of data from a large number of people, qualitative researchers do the inverse, and they gather large amount of data from small number of people, through extensive interviews. The result is more abstract than quantitative analysis, but the insights can be invaluable, while predicting behaviors and trends of consumers.
The Marketing Research Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification for market research analysts. Although certification is voluntary, analysts pursue certification to demonstrate a level of professional competency. To be certified, candidates must qualify based on experience and knowledge - clear an exam, become a member of a professional organization, possess at least 3 years of working in opinion and market research. Certification has to be renewed every two years, and a market research analyst must continuously undergo educational courses.
Market research analysts and military job titles
Interestingly, parallels can be drawn between the two - market research analysts and military job titles. For instance, in the US Air Force, network intelligence analyst specialist collects and analyzes intelligence from multiple communication networks. In the US army, intelligence analysts coordinate analysis, processing and dissemination of strategic and tactical intelligence.
Psychological operations specialists assess, create and distribute media and information to a target population. Signals intelligence analyst analyzes strategic communications in order to extract tactical intelligence.
In the US Marine Corps, signals intelligence officer collects and interprets signals data for intelligence reports and briefings. And in the US Navy, intelligence specialists, monitors and analyzes tactical and operational intelligence and information systems and strategies.
This position is expected to grow about 41 percent, from 2010- 2020. The job prospects should be bright for those armed with a master's degree. As of May 2010, the average median annual pay for a market research analyst is around $ 60,570, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median wage is the one at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than the amount and half earned less.
Salary levels are bound to vary depending upon on numerous factors such as local, regional and market conditions, level of experience and educational qualifications.
As on 2010, there were about 282, 700 jobs held by market research analysts in the US. They are in demand in most industries. Some of the industries which employed the services of market research analysts include, professional, scientific and technical services, about 29%, finance and insurance sectors, about 11%, information, about 8%, wholesale trade, 8% and management of companies and enterprises, 8%. The overall job prospects for market research analysts are good and rapid employment growth in most industries means job opportunities throughout the economy.