Market research can be explained as the analytical gathering, logging and analysis of customer, competition and market data. The purpose being to help support businesses identify, communicate and trade with its key audiences. In general it allows organisations to understand all aspects of their customers' behaviour from requirements, beliefs and buying habits. For these reasons, and many others, a market research graduate career is highly sought-after.
In order to attain such data or information, businesses generally use two basic research techniques:
- Qualitative research - obtaining data from small groups to form opinions on a specific issue, identifying subconscious drives and motivations.
- Quantitative research - obtaining data from large groups of respondents which is statistically analysed to provide a general overview of an entire population.
Today the UK's market in market research has seen steady but consistent growth over the years. This growth has been affected by the use of new techniques in gathering data, as research companies look to deliver faster results at lower prices. Online data collection methods have been the prime tool in providing an improved service, as the market becomes more and more competitive. New recruits into the sector have expanded the offering further by using behavioural studies, business intelligence and forecasting, techniques beyond the traditional market research boundaries. Such change brings further graduate opportunities within market research.
Average Market Research Graduate Salary
Market Research Graduate Career Path
The career path within market research is often well defined by graduate recruiters. Graduates will begin their career as a Research Executive, looking to reach Senior Research Executive within three years. From there, management responsibilities can be expected relatively quickly.
Market research offers graduates the opportunity to combine their analytical talents with their communication skills, a unique selling point for many graduates. Graduates considering analytical and consultancy careers often thrive in this sector, as a market research graduate career combines elements of both.
Requirements for a career in market research differ depending on which field of research you wish to join:
- Quantitative research:
Consultants in this specialism deal with large amounts of numerical data on a daily basis. Graduates are not required to be high class mathematicians but you will need to be comfortable working with numbers and have studied some analytical and numerical modules or case studies as part of your degree or A-Levels, which should be clearly highlighted on your CV and cover letter. Employers seek graduates with the ability to understand and interpret data, to translate it into an easy to understand business case. Due to this, graduates with university degrees in Psychology and History tend to be successful in this field, as do those with sound communication skills and writing abilities.
- Qualitative research:
Consultants in this specialism are often required to work with respondents on a face-to-face basis. This is often through focus group work. Successful candidates must therefore demonstrate strong people/soft skills and the ability to understand behavioural signs to translate into a business case. Both sound writing ability and an analytical approach are key characteristics sought by employers.
GRB are actively providing candidates for a number of leading players in the market research industry.
Qualifications and Skills Needed
What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Market Research graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.
GRB Placements for Marketing Research by Degree
Typical Candidate Attributes
If you want to get into quantitative research, the following subjects are useful:
For qualitative research it is helpful to have a degree in a subject such as:
- Social sciences
Candidates need to show evidence of the following:
- Interpersonal skills, with strong written and oral communication skills
- Good analytical and numerical skills
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- The ability to use initiative
- Excellent organisational skills
- Business awareness
- Creativity and problem-solving skills
- Teamwork and negotiation skills
- Flexibility and drive
- IT literacy
- An interest in psychology and behaviour
Ben, Lancaster University
"I graduated in 2008 into an unwelcoming economic climate. I hadn't planned ahead, and ended up taking a basic job while looking for a graduate position. I found one some months later, in Market Research. This was not what I had set out to do with an English degree, but my team were welcoming, and the office was good. I wore a suit less than I had imagined (never) but while everyone was friendly and casual, I quickly realised that they were all very serious about the business.
Questions were openly encouraged, as it's better to bother people at first than make mistakes later. I think now that a lot of corporate culture is similar, and there certainly are great opportunities for training and development within the larger multinationals; if you're willing to build your reputation and capitalise on it. I also discovered that the hours in the contract were seen as a minimum, and staying late to finish any outstanding work was expected. Only a few people got in very early, and I think it pays to be among them in order to get the core work done without distraction. I was not versed in office politics, but they're definitely there. Everything's quite formal at work, but it's in the pub afterwards that the real relationships are built. I found it useful to be authentic, and to speak up if not being given a fair share. People are often divided into subject matter experts, and managers who can summarise and present what they produce. If you're making a career, make sure that you're the latter.
Dress like your manager's boss and be polite if you're looking for a client-facing role. I found in my job that it wasn't always the stressed people who worked on weekends who got ahead, but the people who identified the objective and pulled together the necessary resources to achieve it.
Most people didn't venture out for their lunch break; if you want to, make it a routine from the start. Market Research is like most other marketing roles; as a graduate you will be drawing in different threads of the business to meet a client brief. There's quite a few freebies, but that shouldn't be part of decision making. If you're looking for a role that will teach you transferable commercial project management experience, market research is definitely one to consider. Try and start in a large company to ensure you get the best training. There were a few pedantic points about conformity that go with the corporate environment and it's important to fit in with these. If you're looking for an extension of university, this sector isn't necessarily what you're looking for, as things are taken very seriously. That said, it's good fun, and you'll never tire of people asking if you're the person who calls them when they're having dinner when you tell them you work in market research."
Luke, University Of Exeter
Before I went to University I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards. That's why I chose a Science degree (Biology) as I knew it would still leave me with a wide range of career options. Unfortunately when I left the University of Exeter, I still didn't have a clue about what I wanted to do! I signed up to the Graduate Recruitment Bureau and they immediately started sending me roles that would fit with my degree. A few of these were for Market Research agencies. At the time, I had never even heard of Market Research, but I became interested after reading a bit more about the roles. GRB set me up with an interview for a company based in London and provided me with a great deal of support, with guidance on what to expect and the kind of things I should talk about in the interview. My first interview seemed to go well, I was invited back for a second and then evenutally I was offered the job!
It turned out that market research was perfectly suited to my interests, skills, education and even my limited previous work experience (Saturday jobs in the high street)! Market research involves researching the opinion of consumers to help companies improve their services and products and I've been able to work with major global companies, including Coca Cola, Unilever and Nestle. Over the past 3 years I've been lucky enough to be given several promotions, although it has involved a lot of hard work at times. Now I'm a Research Manager and I'm living and working in Dubai with a different Market Research agency after recently moving jobs. When I left University 3 years ago without a clue what to do next, I never could have imagined I would end up here and I'm very grateful to GRB for their help starting me on this path!