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.
A 2020 survey from business intelligence company Dresner Advisory Services found that 90% of polled business leaders believe data analytics is critical to their digital initiatives. This optimistic outlook is creating new opportunities for market researchers and other analysts who possess 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 can prepare for these high-impact roles. Understanding what a market research analyst does is another important piece of the puzzle.
Market Research Analysts: Roles and Responsibilities
Market research analysts help companies understand, anticipate and capitalize on market conditions that impact the sale of products and services. Their discoveries provide the necessary context to ascertain 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 the preferences, needs and buying habits of their target audiences.
Companies then use these resources to personalize marketing strategies, develop new product offerings and tailor shopping experiences to different consumer demographics.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), market research analyst roles 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 life cycle, from early research and development, 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.
Market Research Analyst Skills
Although analytical skills are essential to what a market research analyst does, there’s more to the role 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 information technology (IT) experts. The following are among the key skills for market research analysts.
- 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 analyzing 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.
- Technological savvy: 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 and QlikView help organize complex data sets, making it easier to present information to non-experts. Search engine optimization platforms — such as Ahrefs, Google Search Console and SEMRush — 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 modern 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 of market research analysts is expected to grow 22% between 2020 and 2030, which is considerably faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations.
In terms of specific employment opportunities, the BLS lists the following industries as having the highest concentrations of market research analysts:
- Advertising, public relations and related services
- Organizations that lease nonfinancial intangible assets, like brand recognition or goodwill
- 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 who have a combination of data science, marketing and business expertise. Those with years of real-world experience and the right educational background are well positioned to fill these roles, though the specifics of what a market research analyst does may depend on the particular organization they work for. 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 for their clients.
The median annual salary for market research analysts was $63,920 in May 2021, according to the BLS. The top 10% earned more than $128,320. While candidates with a master’s degree in a related field can often secure higher starting salaries than those with only a bachelor’s, prior work experience can also play a major role during the interview process.
How to Become a Market Research Analyst
A combination of education, experience and certification can lead to career opportunities in this field. Following are key steps on the path to becoming a market research analyst.
Step 1: Earn a College Degree
A bachelor’s degree in a subject like marketing, business or a social science is the basic educational requirement for many market research analyst roles. This education should focus on subjects such as:
- Research methods
- Computer programming languages
For higher-level roles, including leadership positions and those requiring more technical research, employers often seek graduates with master’s degrees. A graduate degree that focuses on business analytics — with advanced classes in subjects such as data security, ethics and leadership — can provide the knowledge these roles require.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
Experience is an important component for advancement and certification as a market research analyst. Roles such as a market research intern, account representative or marketing assistant can be good starting points to gain experience in this field. This experience also is a common requirement for certifications associated with market research analysis.
Step 3: Obtain Certification
While not always a requirement, certification can help market research analysts stand out when seeking new opportunities. Certification provides another level of assurance of a professional’s knowledge and skills.
A common certification for market research analysts is the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) from the Marketing Research Association. To qualify, candidates must have at least three years of relevant professional experience, complete 12 hours of courses and pass an exam. Continuing education is a requirement to renew this certification.
Advance Your Career in an In-Demand Role
The growing demand for market research analysts has created new employment opportunities for data scientists, marketing specialists and other professionals who have 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 with it.
Students gain firsthand experience with business analysis methods, data transformation, predictive modeling and applied data science. The program provides students from diverse educational backgrounds with a strong foundation for acquiring market research analyst jobs. Additionally, it offers the convenience of 100% online learning and flexible scheduling.
Discover how our online Master of Science in Business Analytics program can propel your career as a market research analyst.