It’s no secret that modern companies rely on data and analytics to guide their decision-making, set prices and create personalized experiences for a diverse range of customers. But as technology continues to transform how businesses operate, the need for talented data scientists and market research analysts is rapidly growing. One survey from Dresner Advisory Services found that 80% of polled business leaders believe big data is either “critical” or “very important” to their success. This optimistic outlook is creating new opportunities for market researchers and other analysts with the right knowledge, skills and work experience.
To stay ahead of shifting market conditions, consumer preferences and competitors, organizations conduct in-depth studies that examine the potential sales of products and services. This level of insight is invaluable for developing impactful marketing strategies, determining market share and capitalizing on new revenue streams. However, turning raw data into actionable recommendations requires a refined set of competencies that span multiple disciplines, including data science, advertising and even the social sciences. Earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics is one way today’s professionals prepare for these high-impact roles, but understanding what market research analyst jobs entail is another important piece of the puzzle.
What Do Market Research Analysts Do?
Market research analysts help companies understand, anticipate and capitalize on market conditions that impact the sale of products and services. Their discoveries provide the context needed to figure out which products to sell, who to market to and how much customers are willing to pay. After performing in-depth analysis, market research analysts often develop consumer profiles based on their target audiences’ preferences, needs and buying habits. These resources are then used to personalize marketing strategies, develop new product offerings and tailor shopping experiences to different consumer demographics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analyst jobs may include the following responsibilities:
- Monitoring and forecasting market, sales and advertising trends
- Collecting and analyzing data on consumers and competitors
- Evaluating the effectiveness of marketing strategies and campaigns
- Optimizing data-gathering methods and tools, such as surveys, polls and focus groups
- Creating reports, tables and graphs to transform complex data into actionable recommendations
- Presenting findings to business leaders, marketing specialists and other stakeholders
Market research analysts are often involved at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, from early R&D to the point of sale and beyond. Using statistical software, they comb through sales and market trends looking for correlations hidden beneath the surface. This could be as simple as determining which time of year certain products are in high demand, or as complex as mapping out competitors’ pricing options. Since every company uses data differently, market research analysts must be adaptable and willing to develop new skill sets on the fly.
Top Skills for Market Research Analysts
Although analytical skills are essential for market research analyst jobs, there’s more to these roles than crunching numbers and generating eye-catching statistics. Professionals in this field must be able to translate complex data sets and correlations for broad audiences, including business leaders, marketing specialists and even IT experts. Here are a few skills and characteristics that aspiring market research analysts should consider:
- Critical thinking: Market research involves sifting through massive data sets with complex variables, often without a clear direction or goal in mind. To be successful, market research analysts must be able to make connections between disparate data points and form conclusions based on their findings. Critical thinking skills help professionals in this role explain these conclusions and develop evidence-based recommendations other stakeholders can use.
- Attention to detail: Accuracy and precision are crucial in market research analyst jobs, which is why careful attention to detail is an absolute necessity. For example, confusing survey questions can skew the results of questionnaires and focus groups, leading to inaccurate findings in aggregate. Market research analysts must be able to catch these problems before they invalidate their studies, and locate hidden details other companies may have overlooked.
- Problem-solving skills: While some market research analysts conduct broad studies without clearly defined goals, many projects are oriented around specific business problems. These can include sudden drops in revenue, a lack of consumer interest, issues with the rollout of a new product line and other challenging situations. Market research analysts use their problem-solving skills to identify shortcomings and opportunities within their marketplaces, leading to more effective marketing strategies.
- Tech-savviness: Today’s market research analysts rely on a variety of statistical tools and technologies to streamline their workflows and cut down on manual tasks. Data visualization programs like Tableau help organize complex data sets, making it easier to present information to non-experts. Search engine optimization platforms — Google Search Console, SEMRush, Moz, etc. — provide real-time data on what online customers are searching for, helping create evidence-based marketing strategies. The more experience a candidate has with these types of programs, the better prepared they’ll be for market research analyst jobs.
Job Outlook and Salary
Similar to other data science roles, the demand for market research analysts is skyrocketing across industries. According to the BLS, employment growth for this job title is expected to reach 18% between 2019 to 2029, which is considerably faster than the average rate of expansion for all occupations in the U.S. In terms of specific employment opportunities, the Department of Labor lists the following industries as having the highest concentration of market research analysts:
- Advertising, public relations and related services
- Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services
- Other IT service companies
- Software publishers
Market research analyst jobs are becoming more competitive as companies seek to onboard talented candidates with a combination of data science, marketing and business expertise. Those with years of real-world experience and the right educational requirements are well positioned to fill these roles, though each organization has its own goals. For example, some market research analysts work in-house and collaborate closely with advertising specialists, while others are employed at consulting firms focused on improving business performance.
The median annual salary for market research analysts was $63,790 in May 2019, according to data from the BLS. The top 10% earned more than $122,630. While candidates with a master’s degree in a related field typically secure a higher starting salary than those with only a bachelor’s degree, prior work experience can play a major role during the interview process.
How to Become a Market Research Analyst
The growing demand for market research analysts has created new employment opportunities for data scientists, marketing specialists and other professionals with a background in statistical analysis. The online Master of Science in Business Analytics program at the University of Nevada, Reno, is designed to prepare you for the rigors of this high-impact role and all the responsibilities that come along with it. Students gain firsthand experience with business analysis methods, data transformation, predictive modeling and applied data science, providing a strong foundation for market research analyst jobs.