Think of the last time you bought a snack at the grocery store and why you bought that particular brand. Was it on sale? Are you loyal to the brand? Did it have attractive packaging? Did you wanted to buy something new? Was the description on the package what persuaded you?

Market researchers ask some of those same questions every day. They investigate why people buy certain products or use specific services. Companies can use such information to target their products to appropriate audiences. Characteristics such as age, status, gender, and other demographic criteria may impact the choices consumers make. Market researchers also may test new products before they are available to the public.

About the Field

Market researchers need to be able to collect information, analyze and interpret it, and effectively communicate the results. They need great communication skills as well as high creative ability and solid analytical skills. Attention to detail is a must and a strong background in statistics helps.

Those in the field may conduct surveys, product tests, focus groups, or other methods of collecting data to determine why consumers choose certain products over others. As technology changes, more options become available and data collection becomes easier. For example, online surveys may be used instead of phone surveys or surveys sent through the mail.

Although many market researchers have at least a Bachelor’s degree or MBA, more colleges have started to offer specialized market research programs. One such program is the Master’s in Marketing Research.

Market research positions include market analyst, market research supervisor, market research manager, and market research director. Such positions can be found inside corporations and advertising agencies. Others may work in academia, practice independently, or consult for large firms. Salaries typically range from about $44,000 to over $100,000 per year.

Future of Market Research

In 2006, Money Magazine rated market research analyst as the sixth best job in America based on salary, ease of entry, growth, stress levels, and other factors. They predicted a 20 percent growth in the field over the next 10 years.

In addition, the United States Department of Labor predicts employment for survey and marketing researchers to grow between 18 and 24 percent through 2014.

Overall, people always will consume products and services and have reasons for doing so. As times change, so do attitudes towards products, advertisements, and services and such attitudes need to be examined. Customer satisfaction is something that will continually be explored for years to come.

This post provided my Michigan State Univeristy’s masters in marketing research program.


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