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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:

  • Business/management
  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

For qualitative research it is helpful to have a degree in a subject such as:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Social sciences
  • Geography.

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

Sources for Further Information

The Chartered Institute of Marketing
Market Research Society