Market Research Professionals Indicate High Job Satisfaction

Market Research Institute International/UGA global survey of practitioners finds that “opportunities to learn and grow” stand out among the most satisfied research professionals

Areas of highest future interest are data visualization and advanced analytics, along with AI/machine learning, text analytics, and research automation.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of market research professionals surveyed say they are “very” or “completely” satisfied with their job, according to research released today by Market Research Institute International (MRII), a market research industry non-profit consortium and leading provider of market research education, and the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.  

The findings are consistent with a recent study by Pew Research that found that only half (51%) of Americans in, in general, are highly satisfied with their jobs.

The study, “For the Love of Learning:  Career Development in a Changing Market Research Industry,” is based on responses from nearly 500 market researchers worldwide. It found that career satisfaction in the market research industry is over 50% across subgroups.  However, it is higher among males (with 67% saying they are highly satisfied) versus females (59%); and also varies by tenure in the industry, with 67% of those who have been in the industry for 20+ years saying they are very satisfied with their jobs, versus 57% of the least tenured (less than ten years) and 53% of those who are in mid-career (10-20 years),  There are no meaningful differences by business types (64% of those who work at market research agencies & consultants are highly satisfied as are 60% of corporate researchers) and job roles (64% of those who manage others and 61% who do not are each highly satisfied).

Looking at differences between the highly satisfied group versus those who are less than fully satisfied (of whom 28% are moderately satisfied, 6% only slightly satisfied, and 3% are not at all satisfied), the biggest gaps in terms of specific areas of satisfaction are with regard to opportunities to learn and grow. 79% of the highly satisfied are satisfied with respect to this aspect of their job, versus only 33% of the rest, for a gap of 46 points.  

“The research shows an industry that is highly engaged with their profession and eager to grow and innovate,” says Ed Keller, Executive Director, MRII.  “Throughout the study, we see the importance that researchers place on opportunities to learn, which is very heartening to me given MRII’s commitment to education and career enhancement. With the demands being placed upon market research and insights development, and the rapid change underway in the field, that bodes well for the industry as motivated practitioners will be up to the challenge of learning and mastering the skills that will be needed.”

“Looking at the findings of this research, it is remarkable how employers continue to recognize the importance of employee upskilling through continuing education courses. As a leading partner in this upskilling process, the Georgia Center for Continuing Education is committed to the continuous development of new course offerings that reflect the needs of the industry and provide practitioners with attractive and valuable learning opportunities,” says Pamela Bracken, Public Service Professional at the University of Georgia.

Other areas where there is also a large gap include satisfaction with the company’s executive management (a 50-point gap between the highly satisfied group and the rest), the expectations set for their work (48 points), opportunities for advancement (47 points) and the level of communication from executive management (46 points). 

Additional findings of the research include:

  •  The top techniques where market research professionals feel they and their organizations would benefit most from more training and development are data visualization (56%), AI/machine learning (51%), advanced analytics (51%), text analytics/NLP (45%) and generative AI (45%).  
  •  In two of these areas, respondents say there is high current usage as well as a high degree of future interest — data visualization and advanced analytics
  •  Skill areas with low current usage but high future interest are text analytics/NLP, and AI/ machine learning, including generative AI (more specifically).  Research automation fits into this category as well, at a slightly lower level;
  •  Less than 1 in 5 (17%) market research professionals planned on this career before entering the industry. Rather, the largest percentage (39%) took a position in market research as their first job and have remained in the field.  1 in 5 entered the industry via a mid-career pivot, either transferring from another role in their company (13%) or taking on a market research role when it was introduced into their company (6%);
  •  The most satisfying aspects of practitioners’ jobs are their relationship with coworkers (79%); the freedom they have to innovate (65%) and the opportunities they have to learn and grow (61%);
  •  What practitioners found least satisfying are the opportunities for advancement available (40%), the level of communication received from executive management (48%), and their company’s executive management in general (53%);
  •  The top three sources for skills development reported are employer-provided in-house training (64%), reading on one’s own (54%), and third-party training courses (48%);
  •  43% of respondents say they develop new skills by using a new methodology, 41% by conducting research in a market new to them and 41% by using a technology that was new to them;
  •  Two-thirds of respondents are likely to recommend market research/insights as a career, with 26% saying they would be completely likely and 39% who say they would be very likely.

MRII sponsor QuestionPro, a web-based software for creating and distributing surveys, provided invaluable assistance in the fielding and analysis of this research. 

To download a full copy of the report, click here.

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