Industry Insights

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Marketing Research in 2018: Key Trends & Takeaways

December 3, 2018

This post is contributed by Burtch Works’ marketing research and consumer insights recruiting team, and is an excerpt from our 2018 marketing research salary report. Download our 2019 report to see updated salaries for marketing researchers across the US, how they vary based on demographic factors, market trends, and other insights.This marks our sixth-annual Burtch Works Study reporting on marketing research salaries across the industry. After a few years of holding steady, this year’s analysis shows salary increases at all levels, which also supports other trends we’ve been tracking recently that suggest the market is heating up again.Before diving into the data, we wanted to examine some of the signs we’ve observed that indicate a robust market, as well as other key hiring market trends that we anticipate will be major factors in 2019.

Key Trends and Implications

Research & Insights Salaries Are Increasing

After several years of research and insights salary levels remaining fairly steady, we are pleased to see increases over last year for professionals at all job levels on both the client and supplier side. There are also several other indications that the marketing research field is experiencing growth.

What this means for researchers: Even with a marked increase in salaries, we always advise researchers to prioritize long-term growth and consider all aspects of a new opportunity when evaluating career moves. These increases are not so high that you need to consider jumping ship immediately in order to get more money. If you do decide to make a change, it should support your long-term plans and fall along the trajectory of your career goals, not just a short-term salary bump.
What this means for employers: Now more than ever, it may be time to reevaluate your internal salary bands, especially if they haven’t been adjusted in a few years. Realistically, you can’t expect to land the best talent if your salary bands don’t keep pace with the market. If you truly cannot adjust them, then consider sign-on bonuses or spot bonuses throughout the year, but understand that most candidates tend to favor the certainty of a stronger base salary over a potential bonus.
To see how research salaries vary by region, industry, education, and more, download our study using the button below.

Click to download our free salary reports

The Research & Insights Market is Healthy

Our research from early 2018 found that companies on both the client- and supplier-side were planning to hire in the first half of the year, and we were happy to see this trend continue throughout the year. In particular, there seems to be the most activity for mid-level positions requiring a range of 5-15 years of research experience.Notably, many of the companies we worked with over the past year have had multiple research and insights roles open concurrently, with the bulk of these openings being brand new positions born out of organic growth instead of replacement positions or roles to backfill, which is a good sign of a strong market.

What this means for researchers: While the outlook for the research and insights industry is healthy, it is still important for researchers to take a proactive approach to managing their careers and keep a pulse on developments taking place in the broader market. If you’re starting to consider kicking off a search, one of the first things to think about updating is your LinkedIn profile, which is the first place recruiters (like Burtch Works) and internal human resources teams will review when looking into your candidacy. We even wrote a post with LinkedIn profile tips just for researchers.Also, work to keep your resume current. Even if you’re not actively looking now, you’ll be happy that you have a resume ready to go should you hear about an exciting opportunity that you’d like to pursue.
What this means for employers: With a healthy research and insights landscape and salaries on the rise, companies should be aware that the market is becoming even more competitive for strong talent. Candidates often need to make decisions quickly and may find themselves fielding multiple offers when in an active search. Look for ways to streamline the interview process and ensure candidates have smooth interactions with HR along the way. And, keep in mind that personal touches during the hiring process (such as a personal reach-out or even gear with your company logo) can help differentiate your company and close the deal. We wrote more about this here.

Other Hiring Market Trends

  1. Innovation seems to be a strong focus for many companies across industries, and we’ve seen many organizations (both research suppliers and corporations with internal research teams) building and expanding upon their new product development and innovation capability.
  2. Voice of the Customer (VOC) and customer experience continue to be sought-after skills in the current market. We’ve seen an uptick in the request for strong researchers with experience in VOC, and according to our flash survey from earlier in the year, these two areas are also of high interest to many researchers.
  3. Tech companies continue to expand their teams, and we’re starting to see user experience (UX) incorporated more into research and analytics groups. As more companies seek to improve the usability and accessibility of their products, UX is an area that gives researchers the opportunity to make a direct impact on interactions with customers.
  4. Mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations within some of the most prominent research suppliers have left many researchers on the supplier-side open to or actively looking for new roles. For client-side employers on the hunt for experienced talent, this could be an opportunity to add researchers with strong hands-on research skills to the internal team.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, the strong salary increases and team expansion we’ve observed over the past year are key indicators that the research market is robust. Rising specialty areas like VOC and UX are on our radar to see how their growth will impact the research space in the years to come.Over the past six years, our reports on the compensation and trends in this space have aimed to shed light on salaries, demographics, and trends as they emerge and evolve, and we look forward to another year of contributing our insights to the field!

Looking for More Information?

Want to see how research and insights salaries vary by industry, region, education, and more? Download our latest 2020 report for free access to over 30 pages of information on salaries, bonuses, demographic data, and hiring market analysis.

You can also check out our 2020 research & insights salary webinar below, where we shared highlights from our latest research, COVID-19 impacts on the hiring market, and other developing trends for 2021 and beyond.

We hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to hire marketing research or consumer insights talent, or looking for new opportunities, be sure to connect with us.