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High Demand Jobs Profile: Marketing Research

Updated on October 6, 2012

In your search for a career choice, have you considered marketing research? Marketing research jobs are expected to grow faster than average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics with 28% growth from 2008 to 2018. In addition, a job in marketing research isn't likely to be outsourced overseas since an understanding of local culture and customs is such a large part of the equation. Finally, marketing research jobs offer variety, great working conditions, good pay, and benefits.

I'll offer up some background and training tips that will help get your foot in the door, tell you what it's like to work as a marketing researcher, where to find these jobs, and how much they pay. But first, what is marketing research?

Salary Levels for Marketing Research Professionals  Source:
Salary Levels for Marketing Research Professionals Source:

What is Marketing Research?

Marketing research is the objective gathering and analysis of data about a product, market, target consumer or communication piece in order to aid in decision making around all elements of the marketing mix and reduce risk to the company. For example, a marketing researcher might be asked to determine how much appeal a new product idea has with the target consumer and to make a recommendation on whether or not it should be introduced to the market. They may also conduct research on television advertising to help the ad agency and marketers refine the message and to determine to what extent it will persuade the target consumer to purchase the product. Finally, they could be called upon to conduct in-depth learning about a group of people, such as Baby Boomers, to help a company understand how best to develop a product or service for them.

Marketing research is a science but also an art. There's no one way to conduct a particular study, which is where the art comes in. On the other hand, the marketing researcher must have a strong grasp of experimental design, statistics, and data analysis. This is a very appealing aspect of market research in that the researcher can use some creativity. It's not all data and numbers although that's a large part of it.

What Training is Required?

The typical marketing researcher has an undergraduate degree in marketing, consumer behavior, psychology, sociology, business, or even mathematics. With only an undergraduate degree, the field will be competitive but it's still possible to get a job, particularly an entry level job at a research supplier. To stand out from the crowd, try to get some experience actually doing market research while you're in school. You could pick up a part-time job at a focus group facility or research supplier or you could do research as part of a school project.

Many researchers have advanced degrees with MBA's being very common. This is because it's not enough to just understand the science of marketing research and consumer behavior. This job also requires an overall understanding of business. After all, not all decisions are made hard-and-fast based on research results. There are also internal financial, manufacturing, and strategic factors to consider. The researcher must be a business person as well as a practitioner of their field.

There are two highly regarded Master's programs offered in marketing research, one at the University of Georgia and the other at the University of Wisconsin Madison. In addition, The Burke Institute, and RIVA, offer many forms of training on all aspects of marketing research and are respected among the research community.

Day-to-Day on the Job

The day-to-day job of a marketing researcher varies quite a bit from company to company but is characterized by work in an office environment and heavy computer use. Some companies have a lot of meetings and stress work in cross-functional teams. Others have a culture of fewer meetings and more individual work. The marketing researcher must be a strong communicator and will spend a lot of time writing reports and also presenting research to colleagues or clients. It's important that the researcher get to the 'so what' behind the data rather than just sharing the data. There is also quite a bit of time spent working with suppliers or clients, depending on what type of company you work for. The amount of travel will vary by the type of research you do and the company you work for. Focus group moderators, for example, spend most of their time on the road. Working for a research supplier in a project management or analytic role requires almost no travel at all. Jobs at client companies have a nice mix of travel and office work. Working at a supplier is more focused on the research itself while working for a client company is more focused on the implications of the research on the business.

Companies Hiring Marketing Researchers

There are basically two types of companies who hire marketing researchers - research suppliers, and the companies who hire them. A research supplier is a firm that provides research services to other companies who either don't want to or can't afford to hire all of the specialists necessary to complete a research project from start to finish. These specialists include Account Managers (sales people), Project Managers, Data Tabulation Specialists, Statisticians, Ethnographers, Focus Group Moderators, Phone Interviewers, and Support Staff. The world of market research suppliers has been consolidating over the years with the larger companies buying up the smaller ones. The largest firms to look for jobs are:

  • Nielsen ( owns A.C. Nielsen, BASES, and others
  • Kantar ( is a large research conglomerate that owns TNS, Millward Brown, The Futures Company, Kantar, Added Value and Lightspeed Reseach
  • Symphony IRI Group ( provides retail sales and panel data
  • Arbitron ( provides viewership data
  • Ipsos ( is a full service survey research firm with presence around the globe
  • GfK USA ( is one of the largest research firms in the world. Their american branch is GfK Custom Research
  • Synovate ( provides full service survey research around the world
  • J.D. Power and Associates ( provides automobile research data

The other type of company hiring market researchers is the client company. This could be a manufacturer or service provider that wants to increase their competitiveness in the market place by using market research as a tool. Probably the largest employer of market researchers are Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. These companies make consumer products and benefit the most from discovering what people want. They include but are not limited to:

  • Proctor & Gamble
  • L'Oreal
  • Coca-Cola
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • S.C. Johnson
  • Wyeth Consumer Healthcare
  • Pepsi Co.
  • Kellogg's
  • General Mills
  • Hershey
  • Unilever

There are companies in other industries who hire market researchers as well, particular financial services, food service, and pharmaceutical.

How Much Do Marketing Researchers Make?

Median Salary
Entry Level Market Research Analyst
Market Research Manager
Market Research Director
Market Research Vice President

Marketing research is a high demand and high paying field that is very satisfying. With the appropriate undergraduate degree and some relevant research experience, finding an entry level position should prove to be manageable. In order to increase the odds of finding a job, a masters degree or specific training in marketing research can help.


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    • profile image

      Oageng Mekgwe 5 years ago

      I also enjyoyed reading the information provided. I am currently studing marketing management and was not too sure where in marketing i wanted to specialise in (But now i do)


    • profile image

      AndriyR 5 years ago

      Thank you, I enjoyed reading. Most companies I've been working for use marketing research reports. Even though sometimes they are quite expensive, decisions which are based on an honest and accurate marketing research report would bring much more profit to the company.

    • profile image

      naveen kumar singh 6 years ago

      Hi just i have done my "MBA-Marketing" and i want to become a market researcher. So get some ides like what is to be done getting this job.

    • profile image

      naveen kumar singh 6 years ago

      Hi just i have done my "MBA-Marketing" and i want to become a market researcher. So get some ides like what is to be done getting this job.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 6 years ago

      Hi Jonathannatural2 - I hadn't heard of Qualtrics before but just checked out their website. It seems like a great set of tools. I've used Zoomerang before, which is similar. I've also heard of but have never used Survey Monkey.

    • jonathannatural2 profile image

      Dustin Thompson 6 years ago

      Market research can be extremely valuable to companies. We have been using a company call Qualtrics. They seem to have some great tools. What tools do you use to conduct your research?