There are many different types of market research companies. Some are full-service agencies, which offer services that include market research planning, data collection, data processing, analysis and presentation of research findings, and recommendations to clients. There are also small market research agencies that may offer limited services. Some market research companies specialize in product categories. There are also market research departments within companies, which conduct research that pertains specifically to the company and the companies’ product categories. This industry may also be categorized according to syndicated market research, custom market research, specialty market research, and online market research.
Syndicated market research firms study the market and create reports that many companies in a particular industry may find useful. Market research professionals who work for syndicated research firms have experience in those particular industries, and use this knowledge to research and create reports for publication. A main benefit of syndicated market research is that it is a cost-effective way for companies to learn more about certain industries, without having to pay for customized research. Syndicated market research sheds light on a representative sample of the customers and companies in the market; identifies industry trends and issues; measures brand awareness, strength, and perceptions; and gives insights into the competition. An example of a company that focuses on providing syndicated market research is Nielsen, which creates reports on consumer behavior, audience measurement, buying patterns, industry analysis, and more. Other syndicated market research companies include comScore, IRI, National Research Group, and Rentrak, among numerous others.
Custom market research firms conduct research and analysis according to companies’ specifications. Companies use this to help them answer questions and solve marketing problems related to specific brands. Specialty market research firms specialize in a particular industry, such as the food industry, advertising, or pharmaceuticals. Some market research firms, such as Ipsos MORI and Dynata specialize in conducting online research.
The methods that market researchers use vary depending upon their specialty. Market research companies conduct qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research features open-ended questions which are posed to people in focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and in fieldwork. This type of research has to do with numbers and statistics, which are collected by conducting customer surveys and questionnaires.
Market research is done for a variety of purposes: to study TV and radio audiences and learn more about publication readers, study products new and old in the test phase and post-launch, and to learn more about brands and brand loyalty. Other types of market research include scanner research, which gathers information from scanners at supermarkets, and database research, which provides information about a wide variety of consumers, from credit card holders to car buyers.
Market research professionals may work for a large company or a small agency. They may work in the market research department of a large corporation or in the marketing department of an advertising agency. Some market research professionals are independent consultants. Jobs within the profession include market research director, market research analyst or statistician, field director, survey researcher, and focus group moderator.
Market research analysts study and collect information on consumers and competitors. They use questionnaires, focus groups, market analysis surveys, and other methods to gather data on consumer demographics, preferences, needs, and purchasing habits. They also study competitors’ prices, sales, and marketing methods. Often statistical software is used to interpret the data and translate their findings into reports, including charts, graphs, tables, and visuals to make it easier for clients to understand. They may work independently or as part of a team. Analysts may also work with graphic designers, who design the graphics and reports. The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that approximately 681,900 market research analysts were employed in the United States in 2018.
Statisticians do work that is similar, if not identical, to that of market research analysts. They use statistical software to identify trends and relationships within data. They also design and create surveys and opinion polls and present reports of their findings to clients. There were 44,400 statisticians working in the United States in 2018, according to the DOL.
Survey researchers design and conduct market research surveys that examine the products and services that consumers want or prefer. They may conduct their research through interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires, either in-person, by telephone, e-mail, or on the Internet. They may also oversee survey teams, interviewers, and focus group moderators. Survey researchers also work closely with market research analysts. In 2018, there were approximately 12,600 survey researchers employed full time in the United States.