Market research helps industry, business and government find out what people want, and identify their preferences. There are a number of different areas in which executives may work: consumer research covers goods and services sold to the public; industrial or ‘business to business’ research covers goods and services within industry; social and political research helps central and local government discover people’s views on specific issues.
Executives are involved in writing and presenting proposals to clients, managing a budget, advising on questionnaire design, briefing interviewers, monitoring and controlling the progress of the survey, analysing data and presenting the results back to the client.
Executives make the decision of which method to use to gather data depending on the individual project. Quantitative research involves questioning large numbers of people using telephone and postal surveys, and face-to-face interviews. Qualitative research involves the use of focus groups and in-depth interviews. Electronic data collection involves collating information that is already available, such as company records. Many market research executives specialise in either qualitative or quantitative research.
Executives often work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, although weekend and evening work is common when projects and campaigns are nearing deadlines.
The work is mainly office based but executives may spend time visiting clients as well. This can include travel abroad. A driving licence is useful.
To work as a market research executive you will need:
Opportunities occur in market research agencies or within industrial or commercial organisations, advertising agencies and government/social research bodies. Vacancies are advertised on graduate recruitment websites and in the MRS magazine, 'Research'.
Competition for jobs is fierce. There are excellent promotion prospects for people with ability and ambition. There is also the possibility of moving into advertising and marketing. Freelance work is common and some self-employed executives set up their own agencies.
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