When people think of market research they often imagine a fairly outdated model, typically involving analytical strategists within the upper echelons of a white-collar company. These analysts are viewed by the general public as sneaky and manipulative, mining data for information about people who are just going about their business.
The reality is a bit more complicated. While some companies do make use of in-house market research analysts, and of the approximately 595,400 people employed in this profession, many of them do work as in-house analysts. However, there are third-party market research companies in existence as well. Some analysts work as freelancers, taking on contract projects of their choosing.
Concerns about privacy are impacting analysts, too. This means that the way the job is being done is changing, gradually, to meet the needs of today’s young adults and put the power back in the hands of small business owners. Interestingly, while the vast majority of work done by market research companies involves statistical data analysis, a variety of other subjects intersect, from business to psychology to public relations.
Market Research Companies and Collaborative Projects
You may find, upon a cursory Google search, that market research has become “cool.” It is true that many of today’s millennial-owned slick market research companies are less stuffy than their predecessors, incorporating an element of creativity into the process and working alongside other types of media professionals to assist companies with their growth.
Big Data is distinguished from advanced market analysis, and terms like “strategic marketing” are used to make market research sound less invasive and more intuitive. While the general purpose is the same, the approach is certainly shifting, as market researchers and consumers alike become increasingly skeptical of data mining and the erosion of privacy. Apps like Benchmarketing are even being promoted to business owners to do their own small-scale market research.
Why Market Research?
Market research is valuable for anyone who hopes to see long-term expansion of their business, whether it is a small mom-and-pop store or a large-scale enterprise primed for global takeover. In an increasingly competitive world where businesses must be aware of their target audience and find their niche, it is clear why market research is classified as a “Bright Outlook Occupation.”
Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor currently predict that market research, as a profession, looks exceptionally promising, with job growth expected over the next decade. This is likely in part due to the fact that the Internet has provided a new platform for marketing and ultimately changed the way companies market to demographics in general.
Today’s market research analysts are aware of the changing culture and the way society engages with media differently now compared to several decades ago. For instance, they may focus on effective ways of marketing to millennials, the largest adult cohort making purchasing decisions today. If you hope to increase profit, you need to collaborate with a market researcher to fully understand your target audience, from their socioeconomic background to the colors you should use in your branding.
What Can a Market Researcher Do for You?
Market research is crucial for the growth of a business over the long term and necessary to “move with the times” as demographics’ needs and desires shift. Whether you choose to hire an in-house market research analyst or work with a third-party company, you can be certain that market researchers possess an academic background in statistics with relevant coursework in mathematics, psychology, marketing, business, and media.
Market researchers play several different roles, from identifying objectives to designing methodology to analyzing existing data. The career involves a great deal of mathematical and statistical knowledge as well as creativity and innovation, since market research analysis involves both studying data and integrating it into new marketing plans. Analytical skills are key, but verbal communication and writing skills are also expected for anyone who works in this profession.
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