If you’re a people person, market research can be a great way to make a living, or to supplement another wage.
It basically involves talking to strangers and getting their opinions about products and services on behalf of companies who want that information to improve what they offer.
Market research affects areas as diverse as what you buy in the shops and supermarkets, the running of utilities, workplace relations and government policies.
Read more about working in market research and, if you think it’s the right job for you, our simple five-step Q&A can get you started.
- What’s involved in working in market research?
- Could I be a market researcher?
- What do I need to work as a market researcher?
- Where can I find market research jobs?
- What does a market research job involve?
- What training can I take in market research?
There are a wide variety of market research roles, meaning you could be working:
- In the street
- On the phone
When you have experience in the industry you could also get involved with:
- Designing the questionnaires that interviewers use
- Analysing the data
- Reporting on the results of the data
Different types of market research
There are two types of research that could be undertaken, quantitative and qualitative:
Quantitative research is based on the quantities or numerical statistics collected by surveys and questionnaires to find out how many people act, buy or think in a certain way.
Qualitative research is based on more in-depth questions, determining people’s actions and thoughts by researching their attitudes and opinions.
As we said, to be a market researcher you need to be a people person and, essentially, a great listener.
The job involves interacting with strangers and being interested in whatever it is they have to say.
Basic computer knowledge may be needed for collating data, and at a more senior level you’ll need good analytical skills to find the story in the statistics.
But most of all, it’s important to enjoy what you do and to have fun getting out in the world and listening to what everyday people have to say.
Assuming you have the personality for the job, there’s no standard set of entry requirements to become a market researcher.
It tends to be a popular job amongst younger people with a decent school record or degree, those with some relevant employment experience tending to have a better chance of securing work.
There’s no upper age limit on being a market researcher, though, and it can be a flexible option for those with other commitments, including mums.
The Market Research Society (MRS) is the professional association for the sector and, on its website, you’ll find its researchjobfinder with job listings.
The MRS publishes the industry magazine, Impact, which you could also try for vacancies.
Graduate recruitment websites and weekly magazines like Marketing and Marketing Week often advertise roles, while you could try going direct to companies such as these:
- Research and Marketing Plus ‒ based in Cardiff, provides market research services throughout Wales and south-west England
- NatCen Social Research is Britain’s leading independent social research institute
- Criteria Qualitative Fieldwork is an agency based in north London
- Nielsen is a leading global information and measurement company
- IMS Health is the global information provider for pharmaceutical intelligence, with international job opportunities
- Fieldshare is an online database for market research fieldworkers
- Ipsos MORI is one of the largest global research companies
- The Association for Qualitative Research (AQR) is a UK-based research organisation that lists training, events, a library and job vacancies
- The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) is an international membership organisation with a good careers page
Most interviewers are employed on a part-time basis by market research agencies, while other employers include government departments, research institutes and opinion pollsters.
Once you get through the interviewing process, you’ll typically receive a few days’ training and ‒ on your first outing into the big wide world ‒ you should be accompanied by an expert to make sure you’re ok.
If it’s a door-to-door job, you may be allocated a few roads to cover with a set quota of interviews to do.
Alternatively, you may have a pre-selected list of addresses to contact, often with a specific person to speak to. Pre-selected interviews are often paid more as they’re harder to carry out.
You need to be polite and approachable, and to make people want to listen to what you’re asking by explaining what the research is about and what it’ll be used for.
The answers need to be recorded on the spot and, once the results are collated, they’re passed back to the organisation you’re working for.
Researchers are paid per completed interview, but you may find that your pay is topped up in the first few weeks as you learn the ropes. Rates may be better in London and the south-east than elsewhere in the country.
Some companies will also reimburse fares and mileage and there may be bonuses available for those who meet their quotas.
If you want to improve your earnings as a market researcher, think about taking some training, which may also open the way to more interesting roles.
The MRS run workshops and courses, and there are many networking events to help develop careers. As of November 2016, the MRS offers four levels of recognised qualifications:
- MRS Certificate in Market and Social Research
- MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice
- MRS Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice
- MRS Accredited Masters Degrees