Companies hire analysts to research consumer behaviors, such as which products they prefer, and to prepare reports and forecasts to help them improve sales or customer relations. Many different types of companies hire consumer behavior analysts, and although most of these companies sell physical products, other companies sell services, entertainment, or other intangible products. Generally, employers seek analysts who have at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in either marketing or psychology, but educational and work experience requirements vary, depending on the company's needs. Some employers refer to the position as a director of consumer insights or a consumer insights manager.
A consumer behavior analyst typically is a researcher and data analyst who studies consumer purchasing habits and other behaviors that affect company sales. Many employers expect the analyst to prepare reports about past customer habits and forecast future habits and develop this information into an improved sales campaign. Usually, analysts use this information to target customers by various demographics, including age, gender, and location. Other demographics may be the consumer's buying habits, social status, or income bracket.
Often, a consumer behavior analyst gathers data from many sources. Some of these sources are either internal or external or both, such as vendors and customers. Popular sources of data are surveys, which may be performed by the company under the direction of the consumer behavior analyst or outsourced to a professional survey or polling company. In either case, the company's consumer analyst melds the survey information with data gathered from other sources.
Typically, consumer behavior analysts use data from a variety of sources. For example, a consumer behavior analyst for a motion picture or television production company may use television ratings and other industry statistics, audience data, and social media data. The entertainment industry usually uses these data to improve the marketing strategies and advertising campaigns for new television shows, movies, and video games.
Consumers seldom realize that consumer behavior analysts are tracking their spending habits. Some of the modern ways to track a consumer's buying habits include collecting data through store perks cards, website usage, and credit card purchases. Often an analyst or computer program can determine a person's age, gender, and income through these sources. Using a strong background in psychology, an analyst usually can predict future consumer patterns and advise the company on lucrative marketing and product development.
If a person is interested in becoming a consumer behavior analyst, he or she should consult a college guidance counselor. Generally, companies hire analysts that have a degree in either marketing or psychology, with a minor in the other area. Most employers require a bachelor's degree, but many require a master's degree.