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How to become a Consumer Scientist

consumer scientist careers

What does a Consumer Scientist do?

Consumer scientists, sometimes known as home economists, study the needs of people as consumers of goods and services, and give advice on their use. They often represent consumers' views to manufacturers.

Roles vary depending on the product or service specialism. The work may involve:

  • food product development - working for food manufacturers or large supermarket chains. Research is conducted on consumer tastes to design new dishes and food products
  • product and service development - advising on products ranging from household or leisure products to public amenities and financial services
  • quality assurance - developing testing programmes to ensure products meet quality standards and legal requirements
  • marketing - using market research to advise on packaging design and to plan the advertising and distribution of the product
  • consumer advice - representing consumers' rights. This involves knowledge of specific legislation
  • catering - hotel or restaurant management, and possibly advising schools, residential care homes or hospitals on provision of healthy meals
  • media and journalism – writing articles/creating material such as leaflets on cookery, family health or new products, or working in public relations liaising with the media
  • education - providing advice on healthy living, often as a teacher in secondary schools or further and higher education
  • government - working for bodies such as the Food Standards Agency or Trading Standards and Environmental Health departments to ensure food safety and consumer protection laws are not breached.
The job title may differ depending on the organisation, for example, in some companies a consumer scientist may be referred to as a product development technologist or local government food and craft officer. In smaller companies the role of consumer scientist may form part of a more general job, such as marketing manager.

What's the working environment like working as a Consumer Scientist?

Working conditions vary according to the employing organisation, but the basic hours are usually 36 to 40 a week, Monday to Friday. Evening and weekend work may be necessary.

Time will be spent reading, researching and writing reports.

What does it take to become a Consumer Scientist?

As a consumer scientist, you should:

  • be interested in people and communities
  • be friendly and approachable
  • have strong communication skills
  • be able to multi-task
  • have an interest in and a knowledge of food
  • be practical and able to relate knowledge to everyday situations
  • have good analytical and problem solving skills
  • have basic computer skills.

Consumer Scientist Career Opportunities

Consumer scientists can work for manufacturers, retail chains, public relations and marketing agencies, hotels and restaurants, local authorities and advisory organisations, pressure groups and research bodies, educational institutions, in journalism, and for utility companies.

With such a wide range of possible employers, consumer scientists can move from one organisation to another and have the opportunity to progress into management in most areas. It may be necessary to relocate to take up these opportunities.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Consumer Scientist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Food Standards Agency
Aviation House
125 Kingsway
London
WC2B 6NH
Tel: 020 7276 8000
www.foodstandards.gov.uk

Institute of Consumer Science
Lonsdale House
52 Blucher Street
Birmingham
B1 1QU
Tel: 0121 616 5188
www.institute-consumer-sciences.co.uk

Facts and Stats:

  • The merchandising from Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, is expected to generate twice as much as the box office takings.
  • Star Wars is the most successful film-based merchandising programme in history with a £2.8 billion turnover.
  • By 2004, it has been predicted that over £13 billion a year will be spent on on-line advertising in the US alone, compared with £3.4 billion in Europe.
  • Between a fifth and a quarter of holiday bookings originate from Teletext.

Courses to help you become a Consumer Scientist