|What is market research?|
Although there are various entry points into Market Research; entry without a degree for roles including some face to face and telephone interviewing for example; the majority of research positions require a degree. The subject is not as important as the combination of qualifications and qualities such as interpersonal skills, a real interest in the area of work/ interest in behaviour, research, analytical and organisational ability. However for work in a specific sector a degree related to that sector may prove advantageous.
The main routes into market research are:
1) Join a market research agency. These agencies range from small UK consultancies to large international firms; carrying out market research on behalf of other companies.
2) Work as a market research specialist within a company commissioning research for that organisation.
Market Research is the gathering and analysis of information about what people want or like or what they actually buy.
It is therefore a process of gathering, analysing and interpreting information about a market (a product or service) and the past, present and potential customers for such product or services.
This requires in the research carried out an analysis of the spending habits, location and needs of the target audience or market as well as an understanding of the industry as a whole, and competitors in the market place. This includes:
- Quantitative research - data such as numbers and percentages of buyers or who remembers particular advertisements.
- Qualitative research produces data which reveals why buyers choose a particular product or brand. Qualitative research techniques such as focus groups and in-depth interviews can identify a customer thoughts, motivations and reactions to products, packaging prices and advertisements. .
- Consumer questionnaire and customer panels provide information on areas including customer lifestyles, consumption patterns; while insights into future customer lifestyles are forecast by futurologists (used for example by political parties trying to 'sell' their views to electors prior to a general election.)
- Retail audits measure market sales, competitors' sales, market share, prices, and special offers; think about how ASDA compares prices with Tesco's on TV adverts. Customer surveys are also used to measure customer attitudes, levels of awareness, actual purchases and intentions to purchase.
- Analytical ability
- Time management skills
- Communication skills - written and oral
- High levels of attention to detail
- Ability to manage projects within budget
- The skill to perform under pressure is essential.
- Good IT skills are needed
- Understanding or willingness to gain specialist knowledge of statistical software such as SPSS.
You can find an occupational profile for a market researcher on the Prospects website. This includes information on typical work activities, salary & conditions, entry requirements, career development, typical employers, related jobs and contacts.
There are a number of career profiles on the MRS website. These detail researchers' experiences and provide an insight into the variety of careers available to you within market, social and opinion research.
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a market research statistician, the Royal Statistical Society provides a useful guide to this role.
If you are interested in a career relating to qualitative research you can request a graduate pack from the Association of Qualitative Research (AQR).
There is a list of market research organisations offering structured placement opportunities for students interested in working in a market or social research environment at the Market Research Society (MRS)
The following are examples of some of the organisations that you may like to look into if you are interested in a career in market research:
- ABI Research
- BRG Building Solutions
- Euromonitor International
- Explain Research (based in the North East)
- Facts International
- Gamma Associates
- Ipsos MORI
- Millward Brown
- Research Solutions
- Survey & Marketing Services Ltd (based in the North East)
The following provide details of market research agencies and consultancies.
A postgraduate qualification is not essential to get a first role within the market research sector. Studying for a relevant masters, however, could help you to develop he necessary research skills if these were not a fundamental part of your first degree. Increasingly, some employers are showing a preference for masters qualifications. Roles advertised by ABI Research, for example, specify Bachelor's degree required; Master's degree preferred.
The Market Research Society (MRS) does accredit some postgraduate courses. Details of these can be found on their website. They also provide details of a range of other qualifications, which are suitable for different levels of experience.
If you are unsure whether to complete a postgraduate degree, or other qualification, consider contacting the organisations that you would like to apply to in the future. They should be able to advise you on how they would view such a qualification.