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Market research: graduate area of work

Graduate jobs in market research involve planning, co-ordinating and administering market research projects. You need to have excellent analytical and organisational skills.

Market research helps to identify what people do, think, buy or believe and why. It is used for new product testing, assessing customer preferences, evaluating competition and monitoring staff or customer satisfaction. Employers include market research agencies, management consultants, government departments, advertising agencies and commercial organisations such as manufacturers. Market research executives are responsible for:

  • consulting clients about project requirements and objectives
  • designing research methods such as interviews and questionnaires
  • agreeing timescales and budgets
  • supervising staff
  • monitoring work progress
  • writing reports
  • analysing, translating and presenting results

The work offers high levels of responsibility and excellent opportunities for promotion into senior managerial positions. However, long hours, evening and weekend work is common and the job can be pressurised at times, particularly when deadlines approach.

What's required

Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, although some employers prefer a social/behavioural science, marketing or numerate subject. A number of institutions offer specialist postgraduate marketing qualifications, which can be advantageous. Some jobs, particularly those in industrial market research, necessitate a scientific or technical background.

All candidates need commercial awareness and excellent analytical, organisational, interpersonal, numerical and verbal communication skills. Relevant work experience gained in any commercial area that requires contact with customers or the general public including retailing, sales and marketing can be beneficial. Experience of canvassing or market research interviewing is particularly useful.

Where to find out more

There is intense competition for jobs, especially for structured graduate training schemes with larger employers. Vacancies are advertised via Market Research Society publications, by careers services and in national newspapers and relevant publications including Campaign, Marketing and Marketing Week.

Many jobs receive little advertising, so networking, job-shadowing and speculative applications are essential. Get in contact with the Market Research Society or The Royal Statistical Society for more information.

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