What Is a Market Research Analyst? A Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on Oct 29, 2021

Market research analysts pore over trending keywords, survey responses, social media mentions, and more to understand markets, customers, and competitors. Learn more about this high-demand role.

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Market research analysts—sometimes called market researchers—help companies develop or maintain a competitive edge by finding and delivering data-backed insights into potential markets, competitors, and even customer behavior. 

They’re an integral part of a company’s overall marketing strategy and in-demand across multiple industries. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that job growth for market research analysts will increase by 22 percent over the next ten years [1].  

Learn more about this high-growth role. 

What does a market research analyst do? 

Market research analysts pore over trending keywords, survey responses, social media mentions, and other data to find answers. In essence, they transform information into actionable insights that will help companies develop everything from competitive product launches to effective marketing campaigns.   

Each company’s needs differ, but your responsibilities as a market research analyst may include: 

  • Developing data collection tools and techniques 

  • Using data modeling tools

  • Analyzing data sets and communicating findings 

  • Contributing data-backed insights to marketing strategy 

  • Conducting product testing and brand research 

What type of research does a market research analyst conduct? 

A market research analyst conducts qualitative and quantitative research. In other words, they gather statistical data and solicit responses about people’s beliefs, opinions, and experiences.  

An analyst’s research can span multiple areas, including: 

Customers 

Primary and secondary customer research—everything from demographics to opinions—helps a company develop more targeted marketing and align its products and services with customers’ differing needs. Market research analysts may also identify how companies find, acquire, and retain customers while avoiding churn—or customer loss. 

Primary vs. secondary research: What's the difference?

Primary research is research you conduct yourself, building original tools or techniques to help you collect new information. Secondary research is published research someone else has done, like a government agency or research think tank.

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Markets 

As a company develops new offerings—like products, services, or ideas—market research about competitors, similar products, and potential sales can help successfully position each launch. Market research analysts investigate new and existing markets, learning as much as possible so they can deliver precise suggestions. 

Brands 

Both new and established companies rely on brand research to strengthen their position in a market. Conducting a competitive analysis to see how a company’s brand fares against competitors, as well as researching customers’ brand awareness and brand perception, helps them remain competitive. Those findings can also yield insights into customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. 

Campaigns 

Understanding how a company’s customers feel about advertising at all phases of a marketing campaign can produce specific messaging and in turn more impactful campaigns. While this type of research more typically falls under a marketing analyst role, market research analysts at smaller companies may sometimes be called to analyze a company’s marketing strategy.   

Market research analyst job description

Education 

Market research analyst jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree and two or three years of experience. More senior-level market research analyst jobs may require a master’s degree.

Majors that can prepare you for a job as a market research analyst: 

  • Business administration 

  • Economics 

  • Marketing

  • Psychology

  • Sociology  

  • Statistics

Market research analyst technical skills

Data collection tools: Market research analysts gather data from an array of sources, including surveys, social media platforms, keyword trends, and audience insights. Market research analysts use Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Trends, and SEMrush, among many other tools, to learn more about customers, markets, and competitors.

Statistical analysis: Because market research involves working with quantitative data, it’s important to understand how to apply statistical techniques to group your data into relevant and actionable findings. While there are many programs, like the data visualization tools below, that offer a statistical analysis feature, it shouldn’t replace a more foundational knowledge.  

Data visualization: Once a market research analyst has collected relevant data, they need to structure their findings in a comprehensible way. Knowing how to use data dashboards or data analytics suites can help convey important findings to other teams. Market research analysts use data visualization tools like Tableau, Qlikview, and Plotly.  

Programming languages: Although not always necessary, some companies do require market research analysts to know a programming language, such as R, SQL, SAS, or SPSS, which feeds into their data gathering and data interpretation efforts. Make sure to read over job descriptions to learn which language, if any, a company prefers. 

A course, like IBM’s Introduction to R Language, offered on Coursera, can help you learn more about one of the most popular programming languages being used today for data analysis. 

Market research workplace skills 

Interpretation: Parsing data is a critical part of a market research analyst’s role. After gathering the necessary data, you have to interpret those findings in light of a company’s product and marketing needs.  

Critical thinking: Conducting market research means knowing how to ask the right questions in order to find the best data, extracting meaning from collected data, and then applying those insights to a company’s marketing strategy.    

Communication: Translating insights into recommendations that other teams can act upon will help in a marketing research analyst's line of work. A strong ability to speak and write clearly and constructively is an asset. 

Interviewing: Many market research analysts rely on digital surveys to glean customer responses, but the role can also involve conducting customer interviews or focus groups. Being comfortable speaking with strangers and getting them to open up about their experiences is a key skill.  

What are the benefits of being a market research analyst? 

Job prospects

As companies continue to need insight into customer behavior to keep their competitive edge, market research analysts will continue to serve an integral role. There were nearly 750,000 market research analyst jobs available in 2020, with over 150,000 expected to be added by 2030—a much higher rate of growth compared to other jobs [1].

Market research analyst salary

The median salary for a market research analyst in the US is $65,810, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though salary can differ depending on the industry.

Market research analyst vs. similar roles

Market research analysts share much in common with roles that also parse data and deliver strategic insights. 

Marketing analyst

Although market research analysts are sometimes confused—and even called—marketing analysts, the two roles differ slightly. Marketing analysts focus internally on a company’s marketing efforts, rather than externally on markets, but both roles use data to inform their recommendations. 

Business analyst

Another role that relies heavily on data, a business analyst analyzes large data sets in order to make recommendations that will strengthen a business’ processes and help it run more efficiently. 

Data analyst

A much broader role than the three previously described, a data analyst typically works with large, raw data sets that must first be cleaned in order to yield important insights. Data analysts apply their findings to an array of organizational and business needs.  

How to become a market research analyst 

1. Look for a related entry-level role.

While there are some entry-level market research analyst roles, most employers tend to prefer at least two years’ experience. If you’re interested in becoming a market research analyst, consider a related role to help you gain experience and grow more competitive. Working as a marketing assistant or data analyst can provide you with the experience necessary to move into market research analysis.  

2. Brush up on related technical skills.

Knowing that market research analysts use specific tools to gather and assess data about customers, markets, and competitors, it’s a good idea to research the most popular programs and refine your knowledge of them. Watch tutorials, use free trials, and familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade.

Develop your technical skills with one of these Guided Projects, designed to be completed in two hours or less:

3. Take a course. 

Taking courses that expose you to key strategies of market research can help introduce you to the work of a market research analyst. This Market Research Specialization from UC Davis, available on Coursera, might be a good place to start. Not only will you learn about what it takes to do market research and decide if it’s a good career option for you, but you’ll begin learning the necessary techniques to succeed in the field. Or consider deepening your knowledge with a skill-specific series of classes, like Data Visualization with Tableau Specialization.

A credential, like the Facebook Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate, is designed for beginners with no prior market research experience. Get up to speed on the key tools and techniques used in the profession while learning from industry experts at Facebook.

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Facebook Marketing Analytics

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PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE

 

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Market Research Analyst, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm." Accessed October 16, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Oct 29, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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