Consumer Psychologist Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for consumer psychologists. Get the facts about job duties, job outlook, salary and education requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Consumer Psychologist Do?

Psychologists in general focus on understanding human behavior or how to influence that behavior. Consumer psychologists may apply this knowledge to marketing campaigns and product development in order to make consumers more likely to buy a product or service. They determine what factors prompt consumer choices about which products to buy. Consumer psychologists are particularly interested in how a person's beliefs, feelings and perceptions affect purchasing decisions, and they may assess this at the individual, group or organizational level. For example, a person may be motivated by colors they like, packaging, accessibility or price. A group of people, such as a group of hockey players, may be motivated by interest in a product that's associated with their sport or a professional athlete who promotes that product. An organization, such as a religious group, might be motivated by values that the product's marketing is promoting. See the chart below for an outline of what you might want to know about becoming a consumer psychologist.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Industrial-organizational psychology
Key Responsibilities Research and evaluate consumer opinions, product decisions and purchasing habits
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19% increase (for industrial-organizational psychologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $92,320 (for industrial-organizational psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Consumer Psychologist?

A consumer psychologist is a type of industrial-organizational psychologist that studies people's reactions and thoughts about certain products and services. This field is connected to social and cognitive psychology, marketing, economics and advertising. You would study the opinions, conclusions, emotional responses, product choices and buying habits of consumers. Personality, beliefs, circumstantial factors and person-situation interactions can all affect a consumer's selections.

You might find work as a consumer psychologist in consulting, advertising, marketing or academia. You would gauge the effects of advertisements, coupons, packaging, displays, consumer journals and word of mouth.

What Should I Study?

A bachelor's degree program in psychology, marketing or a related field could prepare you for work as a consumer psychologist. You might study marketing in a program that includes psychology, economics and statistics. You will learn how the perceptions and preferences of consumers develop and how marketing affects their choices. A bachelor's degree program in psychology would teach you about the emotional and cognitive processes involved in human action and development. Minors in consumer psychology are available at some colleges and universities. Experimental psychology and marketing classes would prepare you to form corporate strategies that are in touch with consumers.

After graduation, you might pursue a master's degree in psychology with a focus on consumer-industrial research to learn how to practically apply psychological principles and techniques to the marketing field. You would study quantitative methods, research techniques, consumer behavior and organizational behavior.

What Is the Salary and Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015, the average annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists was $92,320 (www.bls.gov). This field includes consumer psychologists. A large number of people in this field worked for management, scientific and technical consulting firms. The BLS indicated that the job outlook for industrial-organizational psychologists is much faster than average, with an estimated 19% increase in employment expected from 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Market research analysts and survey researchers have aspects of their professions that are very similar to the work that a consumer psychologist does. Market research analysts specifically focus on determining what products consumers want and what type of individuals or groups would be interested in specific products. They need a bachelor's degree. Like consumer psychologists, understanding what motivates individuals, groups and organizations to make purchasing decisions is imperative. Survey researchers need a master's degree, and they focus on collecting and analyzing survey data. This may be to determine the opinions, beliefs and preferences of respondents. This type of information may be used by consumer psychologists to understand what influences a person or group's purchasing decisions.

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