What Should You Know About Market Research Analysts?

Market research analysts study market conditions to gauge potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products to market, what prices to set, and who their ideal target audience is. While all industries use market research to some extent, industries that rely most heavily on it include retail, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Top market research firms include Nielsen, QuintilesIMS, Kantar, IRI, Ispos, Westat, and The NPD Group. Analytics managers often earn $100,000 per year, or more.

If you’re interested in a market research analytics career, here are the skills you’ll need to develop:

  • Sorting through enormous amounts of data to determine which data is valuable
  • Telling stories with data – painting a complete picture of any given scenario
  • Presenting your findings in an easily understandable manner
  • Detecting trends and spotting patterns
  • Paying attention to detail, being careful not to overlook details that could impact your results
  • Using mathematical and statistical tools to get insight out of data; you’ll often be working with raw data and must be able to draw your own conclusions, then present them in charts, tables or graphs

Types of market research

Fundamentally, market research always involves defining the problem and setting objectives, developing the research plan, collecting the data, analyzing the data, presenting the findings, and using the findings to make business decisions.

But beyond that, market research can be thought of in a number of different ways:

1) Primary vs. secondary. Primary research comes directly from customers and prospects. Secondary research is compiled from government agencies, trade associations and other third parties.

2) Quantitative vs. qualitative. The former is more about numbers, the latter more about people.

  • Quantitative statistical methods include multiple regression, discriminant analysis, factor analysis, cluster analysis, conjoint analysis, and multidimensional scaling. They can be used to gauge the size of a potential market, for example.
  • Qualitative statistical methods include phone interviews, customer observations, and in-depth interviews, to name a few. Qualitative discovery is often used to characterize customer segments, discover new product features, and identify communication elements that resonate with the target audience.

Specific methods.

Audience research – looks at who is listening, watching, or reading radio, TV, online and print media and the popularity of the medium

Product research – this involves use of product tests, using actual products or prototypes

Brand analysis – identifies the reasons for brand loyalty or lack of it

Psychological profiling – creates customer profiles or personas according to temperament, lifestyle, income, and other factors

Scanner research – the use of checkout counter scans of transactions to develop patterns, track the success of coupons and to establish linkages between products for up-sell and cross-sell purposes

Database research – also referred to as database “mining,” this technique uses multiple sources of data (for example, cross-referencing purchase records with census data to reveal buying habits of various income groups)

Post-sale or consumer satisfaction research – used to determine if the customer was satisfied, this research also can build brand loyalty by expressing an interest in customers after the sale

Regardless of the industry, market research and industry analysis are crucial components of any business plan or marketing plan. Areas to research include products, prices, staffing, research and development. A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is a common technique used to size up the competition as well as its products or services.

Professional organizations

  • The Insights Association was formed in 2017 from the merger of two organizations serving the market research and analytics industry: Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO, founded in 1975) and the Marketing Research Association (MRA, founded in 1957).
  • Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) includes business experts from industry, academia, and government who share strategic intelligence, research decision-support tools, processes and analytics capabilities.
  • The Advertising Research Foundation focuses on research in advertising, media and marketing. The American Marketing Association offers tools and templates to help professionals with market research projects.
  • Social media data will become increasingly important.
  • Mobile analytics will also play a greater role, as the number of mobile phone users continues to grow (Statistica predicts that the number of mobile phone users worldwide will surpass 5 billion by 2019).
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IOT) will provide more data in coming years, and make that data easier to analyze and extract value from.


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If you are looking to develop your career as a research analyst, consider the Wake Forest online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA). The MSBA enables working professionals to develop deep, quantitative capabilities and technical expertise to create business and social value, with marketable skills required by today’s top employers.

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