Consumer scientists play an important role in ensuring businesses produce or offer services that meet the needs and preferences of consumers. If you are good at conducting research, and you want to pursue a career that involves business and psychology, you can become a consumer scientist.
1. What Do Consumer Scientists Do?
- Studying the tastes and preferences of consumers of various products and services
- Designing and conducting customer consumption experiments- This involves observing the consumption habits of customers in a consumer clinic
- Advising manufacturers, retailers and other businesses on how they can adapt or modify existing products and services to meet changing consumer tastes
- Advising businesses on how customers will respond to price changes
- Helping government agencies to develop effective consumer protection regulations
- Advising consumers on the products and services that can best meet their preferences
- Helping marketers to develop adverts that can reach and attract a target consumer market
2. Work Environment
Consumer scientists typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.
Since these scientists can work in diverse business settings, the specific work environment differs. Some spend time in consumer clinics performing research and others in business premises observing customer’s shopping habits. Other can be found in hotel kitchens, private offices and factories.
According to the National Career Service, newly-qualified consumer scientists earn between £19,000 and £24,000 annually while the experienced ones make between £25,000 and £40,000. Those in management roles can earn up to £50,000.
4. Entry Requirements
The best way to become a consumer scientist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in consumer science, consumer management or marketing and consumer psychology. You will learn about visual merchandising, research concepts, consumer behavior, dynamics of branding and health and consumer lifestyle among other topics.
Some of the institutions offering these programs include:
- Edinburg Napier University, Edinburgh
- Ulster University, Coleraine
- Glyndwr University, Wrexham
You may also be able to get started with traditional degrees in marketing, technology or psychology. If you choose any of these programs, then you may need to supplement your training with a graduate diploma in consumer or business psychology.
5. Important Qualities
To be a competent consumer scientist, you need:
- Excellent research skills
- Strong speaking skills as the job involves interviewing people
- Strong interpersonal skills (friendly and approachable)
- Computer skills
- An interest in people and communities
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Presentation skills
- A good sense of style
- Creative flair
- An awareness of issues facing consumers
6. Career Advancement
After getting hired as a consumer scientist, you will undergo on-the-job training to familiarize yourself with the company’s range of products and services.
Once you are settled, you can start broadening your knowledge and enhancing your professionalism. To do this:
- Pursue a master’s degree in consumer behavior or consumer psychology.
- Secure membership in the Market Research Society so you can access its training events, especially those on consumer psychology.
The British Psychological Society is also an ideal destination for consumer scientists looking for additional professional development resources.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of consumer scientists include:
- Retail chains
- Marketing agencies
- Hotels and restaurants
- Consumer protection agencies
- Private consumer clinics
- Market research firms
As an experienced consumer scientist with advanced credentials, you can advance to become the head of the consumer affairs department in a business. You could also move into teaching in colleges.
Finally, the National Careers Service predicts that there will be about 175,000 new jobs for all science and engineering professionals within the next six years.
So if you’re interested in helping businesses understand and meet the needs of their customers, then it is certainly a career worth considering.