A Career in Market Research

Market research is a fantastic base for a business career as graduates can experience a wide range of sectors... once you've cut your teeth in it, your options are potentially limitless. 

What you'll learn and where it could take you

By starting out in market research, you'll very quickly learn how to understand consumers and clients - their motivations, their desires and how their decisions affect the potential strategy of all types of businesses big and small across varying sectors.

The experience you gain in market research is vital for entrepreneurship, communications and business strategy. Due to its consultative nature, it can provide a great base for segueing into a consultancy firm.

Therefore, you might find yourself being headhunted to work at a consultancy or potentially for one of your clients in an in-house position, analysing insights, opinions and statistics on consumer behaviour. All the major brands, from newspapers and publishers to high-street and global names have in-house people in such roles and your skills will be in demand by them.

Or you might simply wish to move across fully into a different type of role that uses the skills and qualities you have built up... many people move into positions in marketing, PR, communications, business and management from market research - it's really a case of seeing what is out there and what direction you wish to go in.

In addition, you might find yourself specialising more and more in digital statistics and research - and so potentially your next move is a tech start-up, consultancy or even a digital agency. 

Should you decide to remain within a market research firm, the ladder can be very open. As a graduate, if you have the motivation and ambition to work hard, you can progress very quickly to senior level within two years, and managerial level can be just four years from graduation depending on the firm. Typically it can take ten years to reach management position, but unlike other industries there isn't as much of a prescriptive time limit - which serves the bright, proactive and determined very well indeed. 

By starting out in market research, you'll very quickly learn how to understand consumers and clients - their motivations, their desires and how their decisions affect the potential strategy of all types of businesses big and small across varying sectors.

Salary expectations

Salaries reflect this as graduates can start off with £20,000+ and the top managers at the head of the industry can reach£150,000+, albeit in the minority of cases.

Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is high in this industry and the work life balance is more manageable than some industries. However, qualitative researchers can put in extra time as they conduct research with focus groups outside of their working hours.

In-house vs agency

Market researchers work both in-house and inside agencies, so the culture of the office can cover the whole spectrum: from entrepreneurial outfits to sky scraper offices. It's always best to thoroughly research each role before you apply, to make sure you find yourself somewhere which will suit you.

Quantitative and Qualitative 

There are two main streams of market research: quantitative and qualitative. They suit two very different types of people.

Qualitative market research: This tries to measure the unmeasurable: human behaviour. They ask how and why.  This method is used when companies really don't know the answer or how to approach a particular problem or market.    Common data collection methods used in qualitative research are focus groups, in-depth interviews and uninterrupted observation.

Quantitative market research: This is the numbers-focused role: the big data, information insights and metrics-driven research. They ask what, where, and when.  This type of research is more conclusive as it tries to quantify a problem, look for trends and predict results accordingly.

Regardless of the path you choose, to really impress a prospective employer, you need to make sure you'­ve got real passion for the work you are doing.  It is strongly advisable to work on building strong commercial awareness, emotional intelligence and evidence of inquisitiveness. These are non-negotiables for graduates entering the world of market research.

Here at Bright Network, we work in partnership with the award-winning market research and branding agency Universum to help us to find out what graduates think when it comes to their career.

So, which is right for you?

Regardless of whether you decide to pursue a quantitative or qualitative research, both roles are psychological and, indeed, often attract Psychology students. However, the two roles require very different aptitudes:

If you like...

  • Listening to people
  • Being a mystery shopper
  • Meeting new people
  • Liaising with colleagues

...then Qualitative Research is for you.

However, if you prefer...

  • Using statistical software in your degree
  • Writing the conclusion of an experiment
  • Wondering what drives people
  • Consultancy
  • Regular hours

...then Quantitative Research is for you.

Excitingly, a new kind of quantitative research has evolved in the form of web analytics. By using powerful software tools, companies can track consumer behaviour across their media and adjust the campaigns, in real time if necessary. If you naturally find yourself monitoring your Facebook likes and retweets, then this could be an avenue for you.

And finally...

Market research influences nearly every part of British life, from economic growth to political decision making. And while it might not garner so much attention as its seemingly glamourous sister industries of advertising, PR, maketing and media, the market research industry is in fact worth £3 billion a year and employs 60,000 of the most highly qualified people in the UK.

It's definitely a potential excellent career route for some of the brightest minds. 

Next: Learn about your target market