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What you need to know about a career as a market research analyst
Market research analysts curate and draw insights from data to help organizations market their products or services. These professionals drive customer acquisition indirectly by analyzing consumer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits as well as delivering their conclusions to marketing teams for integration into product development and sales strategies.
Analysts also help determine a company’s position in the marketplace. Their research can include an organization’s competitors to determine advisable markets and approximate product demand, market saturation and price standards. A market researcher's understanding of target demographics and the insights they gather from the competition can help in the development of ads, promotions and more.
An online Bachelor of Science in Marketing can provide prospective analysts with the skills required to collect, sort and organize data to generate information vital to the marketing process. Graduates who hold a bachelor’s in marketing can pursue analyst positions in various industries, from consumer goods to health care to politics and more.
What does a market research analyst do?
Market research analyst job descriptions generally cite the ability to use research skills and analytics expertise to parse consumer data and guide marketing decisions. The expectations include proficiency in gathering data from different sources, segmenting it to determine patterns of behavior and correlations to other events during the timeframe of the data, and creating replicable cause-and-effect scenarios to accurately predict future consumer actions.
“As you advance through and gain greater statistical skills, you start to move into predictive analytics, where you’re able to take the information that’s out there and combine that with any other market research information that you might glean to make predictions regarding what customers will be doing,” says Doug Olsen, Department of Marketing associate chair for the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “There’s no question that this is becoming more and more important over time.”
After reviewing the data, market research analysts must communicate their findings to marketing and sales teams in a digestible manner. They need to have strong written and verbal communication skills to provide insight into complex topics. They may also work with additional members of the creative team to present conclusions in the form of case studies, reports or infographics to help marketing and sales managers thoroughly understand the outcomes to develop and implement strategies more effectively.
A typical day for a market research analyst could include any or all of the following tasks:
- Conduct market research, including, experiments and surveys, to identify potential markets and factors affecting product demand
- Collect, segment and analyze data about customers and potential customers, such as their preferences, needs and buying habits, to forecast future sales trends
- Obtain and organize information from multiple online and offline sources, including social media and internal records, to measure and assess customer satisfaction
- Determine the effectiveness of marketing, advertising and communication efforts through the analysis of performance metrics
- Track and analyze competitors' pricing, sales models, marketing and distribution strategies and compare to current in-house processes
Market research analysts must also be aware of privacy and security concerns when handling consumer information, particularly when working with customer financial and personal identifier data sets. Maintaining consumer trust is key to making valuable predictions regarding their future interactions.
As the marketing field continues to recognize the potential for data, research professionals combine analytical tools and models with their knowledge of human behavior to create evidence-based recommendations for marketing strategies. Olsen notes, “business analytics is not just for people who have strong analytical and quantitative skills. More than anything, it’s for people who have a strong desire to understand human behavior and to leverage statistics to tell stories about human behavior.” These stories help organizations of all kinds attract, convert and retain long-term customers.
A closer look at the professional landscape of a market research analyst
Demand for market research analysts continues to rise as competition for consumer attention increases and big data infiltrates more and more business sectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for market research analysts was $63,230 in May 2017. Employment for this role is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, more than double the national average for all occupations. The BLS expects more than 138,000 jobs to be added during that time to meet the demands placed on companies to analyze and make use of the ever-increasing amounts of data available.
How to become a market research analyst
Those interested in pursuing a market research analyst career should consider earning a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. In addition to statistical knowledge, they can gain a grounding in standard marketing methods as well as sociological and psychological approaches to consumer behavior, providing them with skills in the areas hiring managers are looking for, including:
- Market research: Candidates should be able to detail their methods and show completed reports to prove their research and analytics abilities.
- Written, verbal and visual communications skills: Analysts may report their findings to other departments via charts, graphs, infographics, case studies and more.
- Mathematical aptitude: Research analysts require proficiency in complex mathematical models that they can use to calculate and analyze quantitative data manually or via spreadsheets and other software.
- Critical thinking: These professionals should be able to layer their understandings of marketing and customer behavior onto data to make conclusions and recommendations for how companies should proceed with audience-facing initiatives.
Learn more about your potential career as a market research analyst
The ASU Online Bachelor of Science in Marketing can help students fulfill typical market research analyst education requirements and equip them with the expertise needed to succeed in this role. With courses in business statistics, marketing research and more, program graduates can explore analyst roles in a range of industries.
As big data continues to drive the evolution of marketing, organizations seek market researchers who can accurately segment information and identify patterns to aid in marketing and sales efforts. Graduates of a bachelor’s in marketing program can use their expertise to fulfill this demand and earn positions where they generate higher levels of customer acquisition and retention, improving revenues and expanding customer reach for their organizations.