A Day in the Life of a Market Researcher

Jul 18, 2017

For most people, when they hear “I am a market researcher,” this is probably the image that comes to mind:

Market research spreadsheets

But for those of us who hold the job title, the reality looks a lot more like this:

Everybody dance now

OK, OK—maybe the job’s not quite that exciting, but it truly is the right fit for me.

When people ask what a typical day looks like, there are a few important things to remember:

1. No two days are the same.

2. The first part of the job title is market: since our work ties so closely with marketing, we get to be creative too! A large part of our job entails strategic thinking and formulating innovative solutions to our clients’ questions.

3. The second part of our job title is research: we do a lot of the work you might imagine any researcher does, like formulating and executing methodology, interpreting data, and identifying trends.

With that said, here’s my attempt at cramming all our exciting work into a “typical” Wednesday for a market researcher.

8:30 am: My day starts off like many others in an office setting: catch up on emails, check my calendar for the day (there’s always a meeting there somewhere), then, because it’s Wednesday, grab a bagel from the kitchen! This may seem like a small perk, but Bagel Day in our office is a BIG DEAL. We love bagels. The process of picking a bagel, getting it slightly warm in our not-so-functioning toaster, and then adding some peanut butter or avocado while socializing with like-minded coworkers is about a 20-minute endeavor.

Bagel day

9:15 am: Now that I am full and focused, it is time for my first task of the day: programming a quantitative research study for one of my fellow coworkers. I’m an online research associate, making me a programming expert, so I deal more with the back end of projects and act as support for coworkers in my department. If there is a complicated study that comes through, you bet I am going to try and get my hands on it!

Almost all of my brilliant programming abilities I learned from my coworker, Braden, who has since become an online programming specialist. He helps with evolving our processes into our research platform, then teaches those new skills to the rest of us. But I’ll let Braden explain more:

“A typical day for me involves one or two long-term projects I’m working on to expand our quant capabilities. Recently, this included things like click outlays and updating survey templates. As soon as I finish a longer project, I find another one to work on based on our team and company goals. When someone wants to know if we can technically perform a research function, I’m the one they ask.” – Braden

10:30 am: Now that I have finished programming and the qualitative study is ready to be launched, I have time to do a QC for another coworker on my team. QC, or quality checks, happen in every step of the process: we want to make sure our clients are given final reports that are 100% accurate, so we are constantly double (or triple!) checking each other’s work.

11:00 am: Time for a coffee run with my fellow ORAs! One of the many things I learned from watching my favorite television show, The Office, is that it is important to take small breaks in your day. This probably falls just behind not stepping on a George Forman grill in terms of important life lessons.

11:15 am: Time to moderate a study. (Good thing I just refueled on coffee!) For this task, we assist on the project while it is in field, and we moderate both qualitative and quantitative research: moderating qualitative is pretty much what you’d expect, but quantitative has more to do with ensuring that studies are fielding correctly. All of it is to make sure online respondents are giving us the quality responses that we are looking for and that our clients expect.

This is generally where my job ends in the pipeline for our qualitative studies: we are lucky enough to have qualitative analysts on staff to handle the reporting. One of those lovely experts, Stacie, talks about her favorite parts of working on the qualitative side of life:

“We qualitative analysts moderate studies, analyze data, and turn that data into easily digestible, informative, visually attractive reports our clients can use to confidently make business decisions, gain deeper insights about their customers, or explore new territory within their market, just to name a few things. Working as a qualitative analyst is great because we are able to tell a story using the data we’ve gathered, which allows for rich understanding that moves beyond just numbers.” – Stacie

1:00pm: Much needed moderation break as I wait in line for sushi. Outside our offices is a sushi cart that serves THE BEST sushi. Definitely a company-wide favorite for lunch. And, lucky for me, I can see the line from the window next to my desk, so I know when the line is short!

1:30pm: Time to shell a report for another coworker. Once the studies have concluded, it’s our job to start working on the reports that will wrap up all the results and next steps for our clients. This includes populating reports with data and sometimes further analysis.

During the task of shelling a report, it is important to maintain good communication with the lead researcher who is the main contact for the project. They are the final name on the project and the one who has built a relationship with the client throughout the entire process. This is not something in my current job description, so to get more color on day-to-day dealings with our amazing clients, I turn you over to online research strategist and team lead, Sarah:

“We client-facing researchers spend a healthy chunk of our time talking to clients about research design and execution, whether via email, phone, or (on days when I actually brush my hair) video calls. With the speed at which we’re delivering research, communicating with clients about their internal needs is key. On a personal level, I just really enjoy talking to intelligent people about things they’re passionate about. Our clients are enthusiastic about their business, and I learn something new from them with every project I run. That’s why building those close relationships is one of the best parts of my day!” – Sarah

3:00 pm: Pod meeting time! One of my favorite weekly activities is meeting with my pod to discuss current happenings with the company and to learn everyone’s current project load. As a support person, it’s crucial to know what others are working on so I know who to help in the next week if I have down time. Another reason this meeting is great: we have candy. (In case you have not picked up on the theme: food is a great way to win us over.)


3:30 pm: As the day begins to wind down, I reach out to others in my pod to see who will need support before the end of the day and jump back into more moderating. Supporting others is a part of my job description, but it is something that everyone makes a point to do here at GutCheck. We encourage collaboration and constant communication in order to make sure we get answers to our clients in the most efficient and appropriate way. This fits nicely with my own habit of walking around the office and asking people if they need help on anything.

5:00 pm: The work day has come to an end and so has this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into what life is like as a researcher at GutCheck—and more importantly, has added some color to what market research is all about!

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