15 Essential Marketing Research Skills

Here are a few tips on how to become good a marketing researcher. People skills and communication skills are important in just about any occupation nowadays, as is time management. Critical thinking is also essential to many professions, one being marketing research.

In addition to these skills, marketing research requires competence in a number of areas and here are the ones I feel are most vital:

  1. Consumer behavior and marketing
  2. Experimental, non-experimental and quasi-experimental research designs
  3. Sampling theory and practice
  4. Survey research and questionnaire design
  5. Basics of data processing, tabulation and data management
  6. Fundamentals of qualitative methods
  7. Basic descriptive statistics
  8. Fundamentals of inferential statistics
  9. Basic understanding of multivariate analysis, including data miningmethods
  10. How to give and take a brief and how to write proposals and requests for proposals
  11. Reporting and presentation skills
  12. Business development
  13. Management
  14. Essentials of financial accounting
  15. Training skills – before long, you’ll be a teacher too!

Besides Word, PowerPoint and Excel, there are many software packages that come in handy in marketing research. Unless you intend to move into marketing science or other areas of MR that overlap with data science, programing is not essential beyond entry-level skills. Coursework or reading on psychology, sociology, anthropology and economics, on the other hand, will be time well-spent as these disciplines provide critical background and context – marketing research is about people, not the idiosyncrasies of programing languages and software.

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There are professional organizations such as AAPOR, ESOMAR, the American Marketing Association and the American Statistical Association you might consider joining, and I’ve listed a number of books and journals in my company library. You may also find my short GreenBook article Putting It All Together helpful. There is a lot to learn and more to learn each and every day, and this is one of the fascinating aspects of our business. Goodness knows what I’ve left out! If you aren’t eager to learn, to be frank, this is not the right business for you. In the words of MR Realities guest David McCallum, aim to be a jack of all trades and a master of at least two. 

I hope you’ve found this interesting and helpful!


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