What is Market Research?
The term ‘market research’ means exactly what it says - in other words, it describes research that a company undertakes into a certain market in which they are interested.
The way in which that market is defined can change from project to project, but put simply, it will be a group of people or companies who share certain characteristics.
For example, communications companies might be interested in how young people use mobile phones, or why small business choose one bank over another, so they will endeavour to find out more about what makes those people or businesses tick. In the case of the communications companies, for example, the research would cover all aspects of the lifestyles that young people lead and would not simply ask them about whether they have a mobile phone or not. This is because the research the companies collect from their chosen market will be much more valuable when it is put in context.
+ Read more about:
- Why do companies use market research?
- What does a market researcher do?
- Why should you consider a job based at home?
- Why would market research be a good job to do from home?
- What sort of person would suit a career as a market researcher?
- How do you go about getting a job in market research?
- What could I earn as a market researcher?
- Are there any typical scams I should look out for?
Why do Companies Use Market Research?
- They might wish to find out more about why a certain product or service is not as successful as they’d hoped.
- On the other hand, very successful companies might want to find out why a product or service worked so well in the hope of being able to recreate something similar.
If someone was thinking of starting up their own business they would need to do a substantial amount of market research in order to be decide whether or not their idea was viable. Basically, there are a multitude of reasons why companies undertake market research but they all boil down to the same thing: gathering as much (useful) information as possible will help them to make the best possible decisions for the future, thus minimising their risk and hopefully maximising their success.
What Does A Market Researcher Do?As a market researcher, you will be expected to undertake a variety of different assignments depending upon the needs and preferences of the client. You might be doing product testing, or you might be calling a range of different companies to find out key pieces of comparable information. You might be entering data into a spreadsheet or you might be completing a mystery shopping task. You could even be taking to the high street and speaking to people there. Any method of gaining information from current or potential customers could fall under the umbrella of market research. Equally, collating and analysing data that has already been collected could also form part of your job.
Whatever specific projects you end up working on, you will nearly always be expected to provide a written report at the end. This will be a summary of your key findings and is likely to be your employer’s first port of call upon receipt of your work.
Why Should You Consider A Job Based At Home?Given that it is now possible to work as a market researcher on a freelance basis it is a job that many people who work from home (or would like to work from home) are considering. But what are the advantages of working from home and how do you ascertain if it’s suitable for you?
Listed below are a few key points which detail the attributes that successful home-based workers often possess.
1. Self-disciplineYou will be your own boss and as such will need to be proactive about finding work for yourself and keeping track of your finances.
2. OrganisationEspecially with jobs such as market research, you are often able to choose when during the day you complete your tasks. This can be great for some people, e.g., those with small children, but it does mean that you need to manage your time highly effectively.
3. FocusYou might feel as though you are easily distracted in an office, but it will often be just as hard at home with books, food, telephones, television, etc. all with easy reach and with no-one around to ‘check up’ on you.
Why Would Market Research Be A Good Job To Do From Home?Market research would be a great job to do from home as you are likely to already own most of the equipment you would need to get started - the main requirement will be that you have use of a computer and that you have a reliable internet connection. There may occasionally be reason for you to leave the comfort of your own desk, but you will always be predominantly based at home.
This article gives more detail about exactly what you might be doing as a home-based market researcher, so it’s well worth a read.
Often, people consider working from home as a way to bring in some extra cash whilst working around other factors such as children, other jobs, etc. Therefore, the fact that there may sometimes be some extra perks to working as a market researcher over and above any payment you may receive can make it especially attractive. These perks are unlikely to have a large monetary value (particularly when you are at the start of your career) but they could still make a difference. For example, you might be asked for your opinions on the prototype of a new brand of kitchen roll. Whilst you would still have to use it in a certain way, the end result - you having some free kitchen roll (in addition to your payment for completing the assignment) - is still the same. Little extras here and there can soon add up and make a tangible difference to your household bills each month.
What Sort Of Person Would Suit A Career As A Market Researcher?There are many different people who would suit a career as market researcher, though as you are considering freelance jobs, it would be sensible to remind yourself of the attributes mentioned earlier that are essential for any home-based career.
In addition to those, you would suit a career in market research if you know you could meet the following criteria:
You are able to understand written instructions and respond to them appropriately. Clients will often have a very clear vision about what information they would like their market research project to yield and therefore will have very well defined questions for you to ask and actions for you to take. Given the tight timeframe within which most market research assignments take place, you will not have time to go endlessly back and forth to the client with queries about what you should be doing.
You should be able to write in clear, concise English with a high level of attention to detail when it comes to spelling, grammar and syntax. Each report you file is the ultimate finished product for each assignment and it is this upon which you will be judged. It won’t matter if you have gained incredibly useful insights if you can’t then relay those effectively back to the client.
A good general level of commercial sense and retail awareness will be beneficial, but you must be able to distance yourself from this so that you can report on each product or service objectively. For example, you might be entering data about which magazines people enjoy reading for a company that is looking to launch a publication for car lovers. Even if you yourself don’t like reading about cars, if the data shows trends suggesting that a large percentage of those asked would like to read this magazine, then that is the summary you must give the client. On a related note, you must also refrain from being influenced by the perception of the product or service on social media websites. The client wants accurate feedback compiled after careful questioning of customers, not the views of your Facebook friends after watching one television advert.
You will need to be able to form strong opinions and back them up with supporting evidence. Even though some of the time it might feel more politically correct to remain neutral, if you are being asked for your own opinions about a product or service then it is helpful for the client if you actually share those opinions rather than replying with, “I don’t know”, or, “I suppose it was OK.” Even if your opinion is negative, if that is borne out by the other respondents then the company will soon realise it needs to change its approach.
There are no formal skills or qualifications required to become a market researcher, so you will simply need to measure yourself against the list above and decide whether, on that basis, it’s worth you pursuing jobs in this area.
How Do You Go About Getting A Job In Market Research?
The first thing you should do when applying for any job is to create your OWN and up to date CV, detailing your basic information along with a summary of your relevant experience and transferable skills.
There are many ways to do this and a lot of them will be equally as valid as each other. However, there are a few things that any recruitment consultant or careers advisor would agree on and these are detailed for you below.
Don’t cram too much onto your CV. Whilst an employer will want to know key facts such as your age, contact information and qualifications, they are less likely to want to read an in-depth summary of everything you did when you had a paper round as a teenager. Your CV should be a summary of your working life so far but also be brief - you’ll have plenty of time to elaborate as and when you get to the interview stage.
Don’t let your CV run to too many pages. Two pages should be the absolute maximum unless you have had a long and distinguished career with a rich variety of experience.
Don’t use an unusual font or a tiny font size. The last thing you want to do is make it hard work for prospective employers to find out about you as they are unlikely to have time to do so and you will miss out on those job opportunities.
When it comes to spelling and grammar, check, check and check again. Then check once more just in case! You want the companies’ first impression of you to be highly professional, not disappointing.
Make sure that your CV is individually tailored to each job for which you apply. In practise, this means researching the company with the job vacancy online and perhaps even speaking to people who have worked for the company before. It means paying attention to what sort of people each prospective employer might need to fill certain gaps within their current workforce and then demonstrating, via the skills you list on your CV, how you could fill those gaps. It is very important to remember that you will not even get to the interview stage if companies feel you’re not really interested in them, so even though it might seem tiresome to keep adjusting your CV each time you send it out, it is vital to do so and will pay off in the long run.
This article is a great starting point for the development of a CV that would appeal to market research companies, so if you’re in need of some inspiration or guidance then check it out.
Once you have finished your CV, ask a couple of trusted friends or family members to proofread it for you so that you feel confident in sending out a highly polished finished article.
The next step is to identify which market research companies you’d like to apply for jobs with and then research them in the manner suggested above.
A simple internet search will return a vast number of results, some of which will lead you to well known market research industry giants such as Ipsos MORI, which would be a great place to start. Other companies that might be worth further investigation include Vivatic and Valued Opinions.
It may well also pay off to contact some of your local recruitment agencies to enquire about whether they often deal with market research jobs. This option will at least mean you get to meet with someone and sit down and discuss your job requirements and your applications in person. However, it’s worth being aware of the fact that recruitment agents work on commission and some of the more unscrupulous ones may therefore put you forward for jobs which you might feel are unsuitable. Make sure you have a rapport with your consultant and you feel they have your best interests at heart.
If you get to the interview stage and are then successful, you are likely to be offered some training in market research. Make the most of this opportunity and give the best possible performance you can, but don’t worry too much if you feel you’ve made ‘mistakes’. The purpose of the training is to prepare you as effectively as possible and this will be easiest if you are honest about any aspects you find tricky, as further training can then target these issues.
Given that you are working as a freelancer, you will need to register with HMRC as self-employed. They will be able to give you all the necessary help to ensure that as and when you reach the required level of income you will be paying the appropriate level of tax and National Insurance.
What Could I Earn As A Market Researcher?
Once you are ready to start work as a market researcher, you will probably be keen to know what you will be earning. Unfortunately, the amount you get paid will vary so much depending on your employer and the type of assignment that is almost impossible to attach a figure to it. You can expect to earn a few pounds for completing surveys, though in reality this may be delivered in the form of points which can only be translated into cash once you’ve earned a certain amount (usually a minimum of £10, payable in increments of £10 only). For some assignments you might get paid in vouchers for large high street chains or department stores or for online retailers such as Amazon.
Having said all that, each particular assignment might only take you a short time (half an hour perhaps, or even less) so you have the option of completing quite a few assignments in order to boost the level of your income. Obviously you will have to adhere to each assignment’s time constraints, so make sure you don’t start too many jobs that will all need to be completed at the same time - consecutive rather than concurrent assignments are probably more practical for most people.
Bear in mind that the nature of this type of work is sporadic, so just because you’ve had a bumper week and completed a few surveys each day, plus a mystery shopping test and some data entry work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be doing the same the following week.
As referred to earlier in the article, there are times when you might get free products or access to free services through your work as a market researcher, so you might want to include those in your ‘earnings’.
Are There Any Typical Scams I Should Look Out For When Searching For Market Research Jobs?As with any industry, there will be market research companies that run scams as well. Any organisation that doesn’t make it clear how to communicate with them is probably suspect, and any company that asks you to part with money for registering with them is unlikely to be trustworthy. If you are joining prospective companies or recruitment agencies, don’t give away any personal information (other than your name and contact details, obviously) until you are sure that they are legitimate. If you’re in any doubt about whether a market research company is being honest and open with you, contact the Market Research Society via their website or via their confidential advisory service, The MRS Codeline Advisory Service, on +44 (0) 20 7490 4911.
None of the above warnings should put you off a career in market research if you feel it’s right for you and your lifestyle, but being cautious is advisable until you know and trust a company. Once you have found the right job for you, you can get stuck into your new career!