Market and survey researchers gather information about what people think.
Market research analysts help companies understand what types of products people want, determine who will buy them and at what price. Gathering statistical data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution, they analyze data on past sales to predict future sales.
Market research analysts devise methods and procedures for obtaining the data they need by designing surveys to assess consumer preferences. While a majority of surveys are conducted through the Internet and telephone, other methods may include focus group discussions, mail responses, or setting up booths in public places, such as shopping malls, for example. Trained interviewers usually conduct the surveys under a market research analyst’s direction.
Market opinion research has contributed greatly to a higher standard of living as most products and services consumers purchase are available with the aid of market research. By making recommendations to their client or employer, market research analysts provide companies with vital information to help them make decisions on the promotion, distribution, and design of products or services. For example, childproof closures on medicine bottles exist because research helped define the most workable design; and the growing variety of ready to cook meals, such as microwaveable soups and prepackaged meat products, exist because of increasing public demand for fast and convenient meals. The information also may be used to determine whether the company should add new lines of merchandise, open new branches, or otherwise diversify the company’s operations. Market research analysts also help develop advertising brochures and commercials, sales plans, and product promotions such as rebates and giveaways based on their knowledge of the consumer being targeted.
Survey researchers also gather information about people and their opinions, but these workers focus exclusively on designing and conducting surveys. They work for a variety of clients—such as corporations, government agencies, political candidates—gathering information to help make fiscal or policy decisions, measure the effectiveness of those decisions, and improve customer satisfaction. Survey researchers may conduct opinion research to determine public attitudes on various issues; the research results may help political or business leaders measure public support for their electoral prospects or social policies. Like market research analysts, survey researchers may use a variety of mediums to conduct surveys, such as the Internet, telephone interviews, or questionnaires sent through the mail. They also may supervise interviewers who conduct surveys in person or over the telephone.