The coronavirus pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, disrupted growth in the market research industry around the world. The global market research services industry had been growing at an annual rate of nearly 3 percent from 2015 through 2019, to reach $75.76 billion, according to a report by Research and Markets. It was expected to drop to $73.94 billion in 2020, at an annual rate of negative 2.4 percent. This decrease is attributed to business lockdowns and social distancing mandates, which in turn led to an economic slowdown. The industry is expected to recover, however, as the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine accelerates in 2021. The global market research services industry is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.1 percent from 2021 through 2023, to reach $82.87 billion.
In February 2021, the U.S. market research industry was valued at $23.7 billion. There are 48,924 market research businesses in the U.S., employing 133,913 people, according to an IBISWorld report. This was an increase over the 44,164 businesses but a drop of nearly 6,000 employees compared to 2019. Growth in this industry had slowed during the economic recession but there had been strong growth in the decade since, with a growing number of companies investing money on market research to attract customers. The increased use of mobile devices and social media is expected to contribute to growth in this industry, giving market researchers more ways to conduct their research as well as more areas to study.
Moving forward, the outlook for the marketing industry overall is bright. Companies will continue to need marketing services as they aim to improve their corporate strategies and organizational designs. Marketing managers and directors can expect faster than average (8 percent) employment growth through 2028, according to the Department of Labor. The use of Internet and social media in marketing campaigns and market research continues to grow, and managers and directors who are digitally savvy and keep up with technological tools will have the advantage in the job market.
Market research analysts will have excellent employment opportunities in the coming years. The Department of Labor (DOL) predicts much faster than average employment growth for market research analysts through 2028, with the addition of 139,200 new jobs in the United States. A growing number of industries are using market research to learn more about their customers, the marketplace, and how to improve certain aspects of their businesses.
Aspects they may study include ways to improve their products or services, or how to bolster sales. Other areas for market research may be to help companies determine if current or new store locations are effective, and if product placement is working. Companies also have increased need of market research analysts to analyze "big data," which is large sets of information such as online product reviews and social media comments. Analysts who analyze this data can provide companies with insights into consumers' preferences and behaviors. Market research analysts with an advanced degree in marketing, market research, statistics, or business administration will have improved chances of securing work.
Survey researchers will have fair job opportunities in the immediate future. The DOL predicts little or no employment growth through 2028. Organizations will continue to need public opinion research to learn more about what's on people's minds and the issues that are of most concern to them. Governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the media will look to survey research findings for this type of information. Businesses will also continue to use consumer and market research surveys to learn more about their customers. Survey researchers will be needed to design surveys for companies. New research methods and technologies may affect some areas of employment growth however. For instance, some companies are finding it easy to collect information from social media sites and data mining, without the need to conduct telephone or in-person interviews.
Statisticians will have the best employment opportunities of all the jobs in the market research field. The DOL expects 31 percent employment growth for statisticians through 2028; this is much faster than the average for all occupations. It’s now common for companies worldwide to use statistical data to help make informed decisions about business, health, and policy, which is creating more opportunities for statisticians. Also, with all the data that the Internet, social media, and mobile devices are generating, businesses will need statisticians’ expertise in organizing, analyzing, and reporting on the findings. Employment opportunities for statisticians are expected to be especially good in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies are creating new treatments and products to help the aging population, and statisticians will be needed to help conduct research and clinical trials for product approvals from the Food and Drug Administration. Statisticians with strong quantitative and data analysis skills will have favorable job prospects.
As more computer-assisted research tools are introduced, competition for work will become even more intense in the market research industry. These research tools have made it easier for companies to access information on their own and to also create their own internal research departments. Many market research professionals predict that the best opportunities for employment will be in qualitative research and in new product development areas.
A growing number of people get their news and entertainment from smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Companies have been hiring marketing companies to help them create personalized messages for mobile and video to reach their consumers online. With the widespread usage of mobile, companies will continue to want to learn more about their customers’ behavior online so they can target their products and services more effectively. According to a market research trends report in GreenBook Blog, companies will also want more research done on millennials’ use of mobile, as this generation tends to ignore marketing that does not relate directly to them. Of particular interest will also be studying what consumers are doing on their mobile devices while they are in stores or out and about in their daily life. Since people can now buy anything, at anytime and anywhere, retailers want to understand what is happening while customers are in their stores, and they will be looking to learn more about the whole shopping experience rather than individual interactions with certain products or categories.
Market research will also study more aspects of consumers’ shopping experience. The traditional consumer reactions will still be observed and analyzed, including shopper eye tracking and coding shoppers’ emotional responses and reactions to store displays, advertisements, company communications, etc. More companies expect market researchers to provide 360-degree views of consumers, however. The 360 view includes the emotional analysis of how consumers shop, interact with mobile devices, or watch advertisements. As one researcher described it, this view of the consumer is important because “subconscious effects that are difficult for consumers to recall about themselves (what exactly did they look at, how exactly did they feel) still make an impression on the consumer.” This is important information for companies to learn.
Digital video viewing has been growing slowly but steadily the past few years and is expected to continue growing in the coming years. According to an eMarketer report, by 2022, there will be 250 million video viewers in the United States, compared to 229 million in 2018. The time that viewers spend watching digital videos on various devices (personal computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and game consoles) has also increased over the years, from an average of five hours and 30 minutes each day in 2015 to six hours and 35 minutes per day in 2019. Another new development is that people in the U.S. now spend more time with digital media than with TV and other traditional media, according to the eMarketer report. Sites such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are also growing in popularity. More market research will be needed to measure how consumers engage with video on various devices and channels, to help companies to better target their products and services to specific audiences.