Qualitative market research is an important tool used by businesses to identify customer needs and people’s perception of a product with the goal of meeting those needs. This can be done by improving product lines, distribution, sales strategies and all the other things that will increase its sales and generate more profit.Educational Attainment and Skills Employers Look ForEven entry level jobs in this field favor a bachelor’s degree holder and most companies require a master’s degree for higher level positions. Although any baccalaureate degree is acceptable, there is a bachelor’s degree course that focuses on market research. Other preferred courses are degrees in statistics, mathematics or computer science. A background in economics, business administration or the social sciences adds to a more impressive resume.The Marketing Research Association, a non-profit trade organization composed of member companies, offers professional research certifications that attest to professional competency and increases your advantage over other applicants in job-seeking. There are certain criteria to be met in experience and knowledge before one can be certified. Internships and sales job experiences are helpful for a marketing career. So are exposures to work doing data analysis, writing reports and making surveys.To land a job doing qualitative research for sales, employers look for specific skills and competencies. Computer proficiency is a must since the newer methodologies in conducting market statistical studies makes extensive use of computer software. Analytical thinking skills are necessary to understand and scrutinize massive quantities of data. Communication skills involve conversing with people to gather information, interpret them and present them to clients. Other valuable capabilities are critical thinking competency and detail orientation because the work entails precise data analysis and assessment of information gathered to determine the action plans.Duties of a Qualitative Marketing ResearcherTraditional qualitative market research uses two methodologies for data gathering: focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. The former makes use of a small group of eight to ten respondents in a discussion during which their behaviors, perceptions and attitudes toward a certain topic are solicited and explored. The latter is a one-on-one interview by phone or in person for more complex issues.Modern methodologies are carried out with the use of computers. These include webcam groups, online bulletin boards, video diaries, mobile research, email surveys and other techniques that are constantly being tested. Hence, these occupations call for working, usually alone, on the computer – amassing data and assessing them and making reports. Depending on needs, longer hours of work may be required.Typical Duties of a Qualitative Marketing ResearcherThe qualitative market analyst usually works on small groups to collect large amounts of information. They communicate with respondents through the internet, by phone or in person to gain insights into their behaviors and opinions, research a topic, analyze and interpret data, and prepare reports, graphs and tables and present them to management. Their tasks include monitoring and forecasting of sales trends, measuring the effectiveness of marketing strategies, formulating plans and proposals.Most of these tasks are done using specialized statistical software, so a market specialist must have computer knowledge and learn how to use these specific programs.A market research job is challenging and mentally stimulating. It draws out a person’s creativity by discovering new ways to do things. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for market research analysts as of May 2011 is $67,130, with the lowest ten percent being $33, 490 and the highest ten percent at $112,560.
Having worked in a high-end management consultancy practice for many years (in my previous career), I’ve discovered a thing or two about market research, and how critical it is to your business success. Whenever we took on a new management consultancy project for a client, one of the very first things we did was to go and speak to their clients and customers about their biggest issues/problems/frustrations etc.Yet as solo service business owners this critical step is very often overlooked – market research is not just for the big corporations, but for every business owner, regardless of size.As a result of not implementing a market research system, business owners are left wondering why:
Their product launch flopped.
Their program registrations are very slow, or just okay-ish.
Clients aren’t signing up for strategy sessions, and in turn becoming paying clients.It’s all because they haven’t done their market research. They haven’t bothered to take the time to find out what their clients’ biggest issues are; what they want; or what keeps them awake at night.Instead, business owners just put their “thing” out there and provide what they think their clients need, not what they want… there’s a very big difference between the two.Creating a market research system is really very simple, and actually quite a lot of fun too! You get to have a conversation with your clients and potential clients, and really get to the heart of what’s bothering them. It’s a wonderful way to connect with your clients.And once you know what it is that’s keeping your clients up at night, you can begin to provide the solutions for them. Your market research will give you:
Business ideas and focus.
Product and services ideas and focus.
Article and blog posts ideas and topics.So today, I’d like to share with you the three key areas that go into creating a complete, and effective, market research system.1. Keyword Research: This is a great way to start and get a feel for what your clients are searching for online. If done correctly, you’ll get lots of ideas to jumpstart your products, programs, and services. And you’ll also be able to customize your copy to include the phrases and keywords that your clients are searching on.2. One-on-One Interviews: This is an absolute must do to get to the heart of your client’s issues, frustrations, and problems. However, to do it correctly you need to know what questions to ask, and how to ask them. This is a skill that is very easily learnt, but so critical to have if you want to get the most out of your market research.3. Online Survey: This is a great way to get a “snapshot” of exactly what it is that is keeping your clients up at night. However, the results are dependent on what’s happening in your client’s lives at that particular time, so should never be used on its own to formulate your next big offering.You should plan to conduct market research with your clients and customers once a year. And for maximum impact, include all three areas as part of your market research system. The good news… once you’ve implemented your market research system the first time, doing it again is a very simple process; you just rinse and repeat!(c) 2013 Tracey Lawton