Becoming a Product Strategist: Salary & Job Description

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Get the truth about a product strategist's salary, training requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a product strategist.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Product Strategist

Product strategists assess what products are in demand and worth selling, what range of people to market them to and at what price they should be sold for. Read on to explore the pros and cons of the profession so you'll know if you're truly interested in pursuing it.

Pros of a Career as a Product Strategist
Very strong job outlook (32 percent growth expected for market research analysts from 2012-2022)*
Relatively high salary (Around $61,290 median annual earnings for market research analysts and marketing specialists)*
Minimal on-the-job training needed*
Potential to help business create profitable growth strategies*

Cons of a Career as a Product Strategist
Best positions often require a master's degree*
Must have strong skills in math, computer science and statistics*
Often expected to simplify complex research data*
Often work in isolated environments, alone at a computer*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

As a product strategist, your main objective will be to aid a company in assessing what products are in demand and worth selling, what range of people to market them to and at what price they should be sold for. You'll conduct research through methods like surveys, polls, focus groups and statistical analysis within the market in which your employer is seeking to launch a product. Once you've been able to collect considerable data, your task will be to convey your findings in a relatable, easy-to-understand manner to the appropriate people within the company so they can then make an informed decision about the direction product development and marketing should take.

You'll often be relied upon to not only provide data but give an interpretation of what it means for the release of a product. Your goal will be to forecast trends within the marketplace as closely as you can and help create marketing plans and promotions based upon your predictions. To do this, you'll need to regularly observe where competitors are performing well and where they're performing poorly to find the right avenue for maximizing your product's profitability.

Salary Information

Product strategists, along with all other market research analysts, earn a median annual salary of about $61,290, according to the BLS for May 2014. The bottom 10 percent of such analysts bring in less than roughly $33,460 per year while the top 10 percent exceed around $116,740 annually. Job growth in this field is expected to be quite high, thanks in large part to many organizations making a concerted effort to measure the true effectiveness of their marketing tactics and find better ways to engage with customers. The advent and continual growth of social media has especially accelerated the need for these types of professionals, as the greater connectivity brought on by such media has greatly shifted traditional marketing approaches.

Education and Training Requirements

You'll assuredly need to possess at least a bachelor's degree if you'd like to become a product strategist. A large number of strategists obtain their degree in the field of market research, though a variety of programs can provide a strong base for the career, including statistics, business administration and computer science. Regardless of which specific degree concentration you pursue, you'll need to have a firm understanding of concepts in economics, statistics, communication and marketing. Some positions require that you hold a master's degree in a related field, and you can be certain you'll need one if you wish to pursue prominent leadership positions or those involving technical research.

What Employers are Looking For

Since employers will be basing many of their decisions about a product on the research you accumulate and the expertise you offer, your level of experience, in addition to your educational background, could be a deciding factor during the hiring process. Here are some actual job postings from employers in May 2012.

  • A provider of financial services and investment management in San Francisco, CA is seeking a product strategist with investment expertise and at least a bachelor's degree (preferably an MBA or CFA) to oversee implementation and improvements of defined contribution products.
  • An online and print business directory located in Bellevue, WA is searching for a product strategist with a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience to perform planning and management functions for its digital product offerings.
  • A global investment management corporation desires a regional product strategy director in San Mateo, CA with at least a bachelor's degree (MBA a plus) and 10-15 years of experience who will identify market trends and plan product strategies to take advantage of market opportunities.
  • A Dallas, TX-based consulting firm is seeking a digital application strategist with 2-5 years experience in product management who can plan and execute strategies for product growth across platforms including web, tablets and smart phones.

How To Stand Out in the Field

Even if not required by an employer, you should strongly consider pursuing a graduate-level education in order to bolster your understanding of marketplace trends and research methods. Staying well-informed is critical to your performance in general so you'll also need to constantly strive to maintain and improve upon your research and observation habits so you can develop better strategies to match and exceed competitors' products. Since you will need to regularly engage in meetings and present your findings to others, you might want to pursue additional public speaking training in order to clearly communicate the data you acquire.

Become Certified

An additional way to prove your level of expertise to potential employers is to obtain the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC). This isn't a required step on the path to becoming a product strategist but it can further increase your awareness of how best to conduct your research and structure the data you obtain. Your level of experience and knowledge are the prerequisites to becoming qualified for the certification, for which you'll then need to pass an examination. You can then renew your certification every two years to ensure its still valid.

Alternative Career Paths

If you think you might ultimately be more interested in going beyond the role of just a strategist, you might want to consider adjusting your career plans toward becoming an advertising, promotions or marketing manager. While you still will likely need to take on an entry-level role in advertising at some point, preparing yourself at the start will help you solidify your focus toward becoming a leader and director of others who together launch and deliver quality products. The pay for managers is considerably greater than for strategists (about $88,000 median annual salary, according to the BLS) although the job outlook is lower (14 percent growth between 2010-2020).

Conversely, if you'd like to pursue a similar career that requires less training and responsibility than a product strategist, you could look into becoming an advertising sales agent. These agents do much of the groundwork in the advertising industry, meeting with clients and pitching proposals, processing paperwork and making sales presentations while sometimes needing just a high school diploma to begin entry-level work. However, pay is somewhat less ($45,000 approximate median annual salary, according to the BLS), as is job growth (13 percent from 2010-2020).

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Kaplan University

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The Art Institutes

  • Fashion Marketing & Management (BFA)
  • Fashion Marketing & Management (BS)
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  • Fashion Marketing (AS)

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Northcentral University

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  • PhD in Business Admin - Marketing
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George Mason University

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Georgetown University

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Herzing University

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Virginia College

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