Career in Market research

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Sarah York uses her skills in research and analysis to help companies understand their customers. What she and her colleagues discover directly affects how a company might organise its customer services to build up customer loyalty.

What sort of company do you work for?

I work in the research department of a market research agency. We specialise in tailor-made customer research that enables our clients to increase the number of customers who use their products or services. Identifying areas which may attract new customers and keep existing ones helps to do this. To find these key areas we research customer satisfaction, employee opinions, and performance of company offices which deal directly with customers.

What is involved in your job?

I help work out the research objectives. I am also involved in designing how the research will be done – whether it's questionnaires, detailed interviews, shopping research or focus groups, for example. I then manage the research programme, working with colleagues and suppliers.

Do you actually do the research yourself?

No, but I have to continually assess the research programme to make sure it gives us useful information that meets the client's objectives. I analyse and interpret the data, prepare reports and present the research findings to the client.

What have you been working on recently?

I am the manager for an automotive manufacturer's shopping research programme. I'm responsible for the delivery of all aspects of the programme and must ensure that it's conducted in accordance with criteria set by the client.

Do you have a lot of contact with clients?

Yes. Client management is a major part of my role. I am in contact with the client on a daily basis to keep them informed of progress, to answer any questions they might have, to deliver reports or to raise any potential issues. I also attend regular client meetings.

What is a normal week?

Most of my time is spent liaising with clients and responding to requests via phone or e-mail. I monitor how fieldwork is going and check with the fieldwork controller to ensure we are on target, quality checking reports, and working with the data entry clerk to make sure information is being processed. I'll also be attending team meetings.

What equipment do you use?

I mainly use the industry-standard computer program package for day-to-day project management, along with other standard office equipment. We also use a specialist data analysis package.

What hours do you work?

My standard hours are 9 am to 5.30 pm, although my hours vary depending on workload and deadlines.

What is the most difficult part of the job?

Co-ordinating all the individual aspects of the programme to ensure that it runs smoothly and keeping everyone happy. Although it is difficult, it's extremely challenging and rewarding too.

What attracted you to market research?

I studied psychology at university and wanted to use my data collection, analysis and reporting skills in my career. Market research was the perfect choice.

What kind of person do you need to be in a job like yours?

It is essential to be a good communicator, well organised and flexible, as you often have to juggle numerous tasks at once. You must also be analytical and pay real attention to detail.

Sarah's route to her career in market research

  • Degree in psychology.
  • Found her first job through a recruitment agency.
  • Became an Associate Member of the Market Research Society (MRS) and holds the MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice.

Sarah's market research tips

  • You need to have an enquiring mind and be able to see the customer's point of view.
  • Some dissatisfied customers can be quite rude in their criticism of a company.
  • You have to be diplomatic in how you relate this back to your client.

Market research related jobs

Salary working in market research

  • You could start on anything between £15,000 and £20,000.
  • With experience, you could earn around £26,000 or more.
  • Senior executives can expect to earn between £40,000 and £50,000.

Getting into Market research

  • Most market research executives have a degree. Subjects that involve communication or analytical skills, such as languages, maths, psychology, geography, history, politics, social science, science and IT, are especially useful.
  • The Market Research Society (MRS) is the awarding body for qualifications in market research. It offers a range of qualifications including a City & Guilds (Level 2) Certificate and the Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice, which can be taken as part of a course of further or higher education.
  • With the advanced certificate, you can study for the MRS Diploma by distance learning. This needs a minimum of three years experience in the industry.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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