Stepping into the marketing research industry

Editor’s note: Bob Ferro is the managing director at Trusted Talent LLC. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Why you should choose a career in market research.” 

Marketing research is a very niche industry, but those that enter tend to make a very long career of it. There are various roles for everyone, from focus group moderating to positions utilizing intense data analytic software and techniques. If you are looking for a change or for a new career field, you may want to consider including marketing research positions in your search.

Potential career options

There are two general types of research roles: roles on the supplier side and roles in corporate research. Researchers aren’t locked in to one side or the other – many go back and forth over the course of their careers.

Supplier companies are companies whose main function and offering is performing market research. Client companies are those whose main function and offering is something else (retail brands, restaurant brands, etc.) but have market research or consumer insights teams on staff. Client companies usually outsource a lot of their projects but have been insourcing market research much more frequently.

The ideal market researcher

There are many types of people that would be great in the market research industry, but here are just a few of the main traits of a person that would excel.


The whole industry is built on curiosity. Whether that centers around consumer behaviors, their reasoning or market trends, a natural curiosity will help push someone to get the best insights.


Things don’t change at lightning speed in this industry, but they do change over time. There are continuously new trends and a good researcher must keep up with them.

Empathetic towards consumers

Market research is not about selling to people but is in fact about solving problems and fulfilling the needs of consumers. Having empathy for them can help researchers understand and get to the root of their issues.


People love stories – and they remember them. Being able to tell a good story with your results helps get your information out there.

Careers that transition well to marketing research 

While anyone can move into market research, some professions are easier to transition from. Anthropology, psychology, sociology and anything that deals with people are great places to start. These professionals are already used to working with people and understanding the way they think, plus some have research experience as well. On the other side of things, data scientists and data analysts also tend to do well in the market research world. Data science is very easily transferable from one place to another and something that can always be used is more intensive data analytics, especially in a world of big data.

When you’re looking to move into a client company specifically, industry experience is one of the best things to have. For example, if you have experience in the retail industry, you’ll have an easier time getting into a retail company. The same holds true for restaurant/food, financial, technology and any other industry.

Effectively communicate your talents 

When switching career fields, it may be helpful to work with a talent acquisition partner. They are usually highly connected in the field and may be able to help you clearly communicate your skills and desires to potential employers.

Like any job, your skills may not be perfect one-to-one transfers to the new position you’re looking at. Stories and examples are great ways to show how you would be a great candidate for these positions.