Retail Consumer Psychologist Job Description, Requirements and Profile

Qualifications for retail consumer psychology careers: Not shopaholic therapy

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If you had never read a Retail Consumer Psychologist Job Description, you might think it would be filled with requirements and qualifications related to therapy for shopaholics. In reality, Retail Consumer Psychologists are involved in all aspects of business for some of the largest retail chains including, but not limited to, advertising, marketing, visual merchandising, packaging, management, and all aspects of customer experiences and loyalty-building programs.   

This Retail Consumer Psychologist profile describes the specific responsibilities, qualifications, prior experience, skills, education and salary compensation for those interested in pursuing a career in Retail Consumer Psychology. It also provides insights into the key role that consumer psychology plays in the leadership decisions and operational execution in major retail business all over the world today.

Consumer Psychologist Overview:

Consumer psychologists study people’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to a wide variety of stimuli including advertisements, packaging, marketing promotions, communications, products, services, and experiences. From these studies, the consumer psychologist helps decision makers determine design changes that will produce an improved consumer response and sales increases. A new career field, consumer psychology is a specialization that developed organically out of the need for manufacturers and retailers to better understand customer needs and desires.

Key Responsibilities of a Consumer Psychologist:

As a consumer psychologist in the retail industry, you will combine sound psychological research methodology with business acumen and creativity. You may be working for a corporation, an advertising agency, a marketing research firm, or you may contract yourself out as a consultant. As the field gains credibility, consumer psychologists are being given high-level analysis and development.

Consumer Psychology Research:

Consumer psychologists use sophisticated research methods, modeling, simulations, and measurements to make observations and collect relevant data. Watching consumer eye movements scanning packaging, shelves, or advertisements may be part of your market research. Questioning consumers about product features, onsite experiences, or merchandising may be part of your in-store research. Observing different types of people responding to the same stimuli may be part of your demographic research. The consumer psychologist decides what needs to be measured, how best to measure it, and then leads the study implementation.

Consumer Psychology Analysis:

In this role, you will take the research data gathered and analyze it in order to come up with valid conclusions and practical applications for your findings. Product design, packaging, merchandising, store design, marketing materials, and in-store customer experiences can all be improved based on the discoveries made by a savvy consumer psychologist. You will need to be able to make analytical sense of the raw data, but you will also need a thorough understanding of the retail industry in order to recommend the best ways that the research can benefit the goals of the organization that has commissioned it.

Consumer Psychology Development:

After presenting the practical applications of the research findings, the consumer psychologist will generally be asked to participate as products, marketing programs, advertising campaigns, merchandising, and shopping experiences are designed and developed based on their recommendations. Creative participation, as well as analytical guidance, will be your major contributions to the development team. This is the part of the consumer psychologist’s job in which concepts and ideas come to life and produce results.

Prior Consumer Psychology Experience Required:

Depending on the level of the position or the complexity of the project, you may need previous experience with similar projects which produced measurable results. However, since this is a relatively new career specialty, your education and any experiences you gained there may be enough to help you secure a consumer psychologist job.

Qualifications for the Job:

Your work as a consumer psychologist will require both left-brain analytical abilities, as well as right-brain creativity. You must have the ability to create practical studies which produce credible outcomes for complex issues. Consumer psychologists need the confidence to propose and implement projects with authority. Discipline and attention to detail are essential for driving projects, and the ability to lead a team, maintain good relationships, and inspire cooperation are essential qualities in this position.

Working under the pressure of tight deadlines will require you to be flexible and even-tempered.

Skill Requirements:

You will need to have a comprehensive understanding of the scientific process and skill with hypothesis testing, behavior evaluation, and research analysis. Mastery of experimental design and research findings interpretation will be essential. As a consumer psychologist you will be writing proposals, project outlines, and findings reports, so your written communications skills must be both precise, and understandable to a layperson. You will need to have computer skills and experience with the software programs that will support you in your research.

Education & Consumer Psychologist Degrees:

Most consumer psychologists who work with retail-related companies have advanced and specialized psychology degrees, accompanied by higher education in business, marketing, or advertising. Graduate level training is preferable, and these advanced degrees should be obtained under the supervision of faculty members who are respected specialists in consumer psychology themselves. Ph.D. programs in consumer psychology are limited and, therefore, very competitive. But those who do obtain a Ph.D. will be viewed as leading experts within this relatively small field of specialization.

Compensation for Consumer Psychologists:

With a bachelor’s degree, you will be starting in lower level positions in retail-related companies with an entry level salary range of $24,000 - $30,000. Advancement to higher level positions and higher salaries is possible but will be difficult without additional education. With an advanced degree, higher level positions and projects will be accessible to you, with compensation starting at $40,000. Because those who are considered to be consumer psychology experts are starting to be included in executive-level decisions, there seems to be no upper ceiling for compensation in this field.


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