A market research analyst is an economics and statistics expert who investigates, documents, and describes consumer trends in a particular market. He or she reviews survey results and raw sales data to find out which products and services are the most desirable among a customer base. The information gathered by market research analysts is used to determine future production and marketing strategies. Most research analysts work in marketing divisions of corporations, though some skilled professionals perform contract services for many different businesses at a consulting firm.
A company decides what products and services to offer based on the recommendations of an experienced market research analyst. In order to get a clear picture of consumer trends, an analyst will research past and current sales data, economic conditions, marketing strategies, and product availability. He or she also compares a company's success to that of its closest competitors in a market. In order to achieve reliable results, the market research analyst usually focuses on a very particular customer base or geographic area.
Raw data is very important in a good market analysis, but numbers alone are not always sufficient to predict the future success of a product. A market research analyst is also interested in the actual opinions of customers. An analyst might review Internet or phone questionnaire results regarding a certain product, or arrange for an in-person focus group to provide opinions about a new item. With the information gathered from actual consumers, the analyst can determine the most effective ways of promoting, pricing, and packaging goods.
Market research analysts create charts, graphs, documents, and presentations to organize their findings. Once a report is completed, an analyst might simply hand it over to business executives or hold a meeting with the company's marketing division. The analyst typically conducts follow-up surveys at certain intervals to ensure the long-term success of a marketing initiative.
A person who wants to become a market research analyst usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, or statistics. Many future professionals decide to pursue master's or doctoral degrees to improve their credentials and their understanding of the job. Entry-level analysts typically work as assistants to established researchers to gain valuable supervised experience. A successful, driven assistant may be rewarded with the chance to work independently in a matter of months.
A market research analyst can pursue advancement opportunities with several years of experience and an advanced degree. Some professionals become supervisors over entire marketing divisions, and others assume executive positions within their companies or consulting firms. An analyst who has ample management experience may decide to open his or her own business, hire employees, and develop a new client base.