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Outline of Job

A market researcher carries out both quantitative and qualitative research for organisations such as charities and governments. Their work is concerned with consumer attitudes and trends, in order to allow organisations to make informed choices based on market data. A market researcher will plan and conduct research, collecting numerical and in-depth data, before analysing it. Methods include questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. A market researcher will typically specialise in one market area, such as social research or consumer trends.

Daily Activities

  • Liaising with clients to agree on study topics
  • Reading up on topics
  • Creating a plan and presenting a brief to clients and senior colleagues
  • Carrying out qualitative and quantitative research
  • Monitoring survey and interview staff
  • Monitoring research budget
  • Creating and sending out questionnaires and other research tools
  • Attending focus groups
  • Overseeing research activities
  • Analysing data and writing up reports
  • Presenting results to clients and how it may affect their organisation

Skills Required

  • Good communication skills
  • Good writing and numerical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical skills
  • Able to carry out qualitative and quantitative research
  • Competent IT skills
  • Organised manner
  • Commercial awareness
  • Flexible manner
  • Able to work to deadlines

Expected Earnings & Conditions

Typical starting salary is £19,000 – £24,000, which can rise to £28,000 – £35,000 after three to five years experience. Wages can then increase to £45,000 – £80,000 after gaining enough years experience. Salaries may be dependent on the organisation, and also, whether they are public or private. Other benefits may include a company car or medical insurance.

Working hours are typically nine to five, though you may have to attend focus groups during evenings on occasion, or work at weekends when deadlines must be met. Work is mainly office-based, but you will have to travel to visit clients at times. Depending on the agency you may have to travel around the country, or possibly, abroad. Freelance work is possible after around ten years experience in the industry, with places in market research available around the country.

Qualifications & Experience Required

A degree or HND (Higher National Diploma) in the following areas would further your chances of landing a role:

  • Mathematics
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Business or management
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology

Most degrees can give you an understanding of research techniques, and how to analyse data. A degree is held by many of those in market research, but is best combined with pre-entry experience. Work experience such as carrying out research for local MPs, a placement at a marketing company, or work shadowing would be advantageous.

This is a competitive sector, and it is best to apply for positions through speculative applications, whether it is to gain work experience or a full-time position. A second language may be helpful if you wish to work for an international organisation. Knowledge of specialist areas may also be of use should you want to work in a specific sector, as may an understanding of statistical software.

Additional Training & Development

A market researcher may start in a graduate position should they have a degree, or without, be able to work their way up from an administrative role. They can then move up to the role of research executive, and then with further experience, be promoted to senior researcher. If you show a real flair for the position you can expect to move up to the position of account director.

Moving up the ladder can be quick, occurring in as little as two to three years. Promotion will be based on performance and experience. You may have to move between agencies to gain promotion, conducting less research and more research management the further up the ladder you are.

Training is mainly done on the job, and if holding a degree you may be able to enter a graduate scheme, such as that offered by the BMRB (British Market Research Bureau). There are also external courses offered by organisations, including the RSS (Royal Statistical Society), the AQR (Association for Qualitative Research), the MRS (Market Research Society), and also, the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing). Companies will often recommend their employees to attend external courses. Courses include:

  • MRS Questionnaire Design – Provides details on the principles of good questionnaire design 
  • AQR Ethnographic Research – One day course to better understand ethnographic research