How to become a market research analyst

October 25, 2022 · 6 min read · By ASU Online
Interested in how to become a market research analyst? Learn more about the job responsibilities, career outlook and skills needed for this career path.

Marketing is an essential aspect of any organization. It serves to increase awareness, sell products or services and drive interest. Without marketing, a business may have a hard time surviving among the competition.

This field involves complex and detailed sets of tasks that rely heavily on data. Every great marketing department and their resulting strategies rely on exceptional market research analysts to collect, compile and communicate data-driven insights with the rest of the team. These insights assist everyone involved to carry out more effective and efficient marketing strategies.


What does a market research analyst do?

Market research analysts work closely with creative, advertising, sales and executive leadership to manage and analyze detailed information on an organization’s industry, competitors, consumers and products.

The role of a market research analyst is integral to almost every business. They assemble critical data about market conditions and consumers to help businesses market products and services in a way that resonates with specific consumer audiences.

Daily activities for market research analysts revolve around aggregating data to help their teams build successful marketing strategies. This can include:

Analyzing consumer data and creating digestible graphs, charts and other communications material to share insights with team members.

  • Consulting on marketing strategies and initiatives based on the data they’ve collected.
  • Evaluating competitors to understand their marketing efforts, consumers and pricing practices.
  • Monitoring the performance of marketing programs to guide current and future strategies.
  • Researching their organization’s market share, consumer sentiment and other marketplace data.


How does a market research analyst gather data?

Market research analysts use a variety of methods such as focus groups, surveys and public poll opinions to gather data and consumer insights. Some of these consumer and market insights include:

  • Attitudes towards competitors.
  • Demographics.
  • Marketing trends.
  • Purchasing behavior.

With these insights, market research analysts answer questions about consumer behavior and product preferences, as well as recommend solutions. Some of these questions may include:

  • Who are our customers?
  • What do they want?
  • Why do they want it?
  • How much are they willing to pay for it?

Determining answers to these questions ultimately informs marketing analysts of how they’ll apply data to marketing initiatives, thus improving a business’s profitability and customer loyalty.


Market research analyst salary and career outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for market research analysts was $63,920 per year in 2021.

The BLS also reported that growth in this profession is projected at an above-average rate of 19% from 2021 to 2031 — much faster than the average. This is likely the result of companies continuing to focus on marketing initiatives and other efforts to better understand their consumers.

A market research analyst is just one role in the much larger field of marketing and analytics. Opportunities for career advancement are possible with the appropriate knowledge and work experience. The most direct promotion involves moving into a market research manager position. This is similar to the role of an analyst, except in a managerial capacity with a team of staff who report directly to them.

Additionally, there are market research analysts who have reported promotions into positions such as marketing managers, marketing directors, vice presidents of marketing and other senior-level roles. While many professionals in this career path have undergraduate degrees in marketing, communications or a related field of study, having a graduate degree may increase your hiring potential when applying for such high-level promotions.

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The difference between market research analysts and business analysts

Market research analysts and business analysts are often conflated; however, they’re different specializations. While market research analysts fall under the umbrella of business analysts, each role requires unique tactics and strategies, as well as separate areas of focus within a business.

Overall, market research analysts keep a pulse on market trends and work with concepts such as shifting consumer behavior and buying patterns. In contrast, business analysts help identify potential gaps in an operation and offer suggestions to improve efficiency and the overall strength of the business — which often involves marketing, but isn’t exclusive to the department.


Key types of research used by market research analysts

To stay on top of behavior shifts and to collect robust, useful data, market research analysts use four main types of research methods.

  • Primary research

This type of research is one that’s conducted directly by you. It’s most commonly seen in the form of interviews, focus groups and surveys.

  • Secondary research

Secondary research includes data that’s collected from trusted, existing sources that have conducted their own primary research, such as government statistics, publications, websites and more.

  • Qualitative research

Qualitative research includes data that’s analyzed primarily by summarizing, categorizing and interpreting different ideas.

  • Quantitative research 

Quantitative research includes data that’s collected by means of math and statistical analysis and often employs strategies such as testing and measurement.

If you’re interested in a career in this field, becoming familiar with these types of research and knowing when and where to use them is critical.


The skills needed to become a market research analyst

A combination of relevant work experience and the right education can aid you in obtaining a market research analyst role. While most hiring managers require a bachelor's degree for this position, a master’s degree may be preferred. This is due to the increased focus on data analysis, information technology and decision-making that’s offered with master’s programs.

The right set of skills is important for any prospective market research analyst. At the forefront of those skills is an advanced knowledge of computer science and data entry tools. Market research analysts are expected to use technology to gather, analyze and disseminate data. They are also expected to share that data in digestible graphs, charts and communications that are understandable by all employees within a company, not just those already well-versed in marketing and analytics.

Key skills for market research analysts include:

  • Analytics

Professionals must be able to identify a problem, use data to understand that problem and then present multiple solutions. Strong analytical and critical-thinking skills are a must.

  • Decision making

Analysts must use data to decide which marketing efforts will be most effective. Their choices will have a substantial impact on business operations and profitability.

Spoken and written communication
Working with many different departments and teams requires effective communication skills that appeal to a variety of individuals at all levels within a company. This is especially true when sharing complicated data and presenting it to other departments and leaders.

  • Strong attention to detail

The collection, analysis and reporting of data must be precise. Having strong attention to detail is essential for market research analysts to ensure that gathered insights are accurate and representative of the target consumer.

Market research analysts should also infuse their work with creativity to bring innovative and imaginative ideas to life through their data analysis. This is accomplished by staying up to date on industry trends and adopting a continuous learning approach to marketing best practices.


Earn your analytics degree from Arizona State University

Becoming a market research analyst requires a solid foundation in both technical and professional skills. For those interested in a career in market research analysis, earning an undergraduate degree in a related field is a great starting point. ASU Online offers many undergraduate degrees that are applicable, such as:

For those interested in accelerating their professional career, ASU Online also offers the Master of Science in business analytics. This program’s curriculum covers subjects such as data mining and applied analytics while preparing students with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in a market research role.

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