Consumer scientists provide a key link between consumers and manufacturers.
Your work would usually involve researching the tastes, needs, aspirations and preferences of consumers and giving advice (for example to retailers) on how to improve the quality, design, production, delivery and popularity of an item or service.
You could use your knowledge of consumer behaviour in a variety of industries.
For example, in food product development, you might work with a supermarket chain or manufacturer, researching and designing new dishes to attract consumers.
Other areas you could be involved in might include:
l marketing – using market research to help develop, package, advertise and distribute a product or campaign
l quality assurance – developing tests to make sure products meet quality standards and legal requirements
l consumer advice – representing consumers’ rights, using knowledge of relevant legislation
l catering – advising hotels, restaurants, schools, residential care homes or hospitals on the type of food to provide
l product and service development – advising on products ranging from household goods to public amenities
l publishing and public relations – producing information on cookery, family health and new products, or liaising with the media
l education – advising on healthy living, in schools or further and higher education
l government departments – working for bodies such as the Food Standards Agency or Trading Standards to enforce food safety and consumer protection laws.
Your main duties are likely to involve researching and writing reports, carrying out experiments (for example, developing recipes), recruiting and training panels or focus groups, and conducting interviews with consumers.
Your working hours could vary depending on the employer, but you would usually work between 36 and 40 hours a week.
Depending on the job, you could also spend time in a lab (testing new products and formulations), an office, classroom or kitchen. You may also travel to clients’ sites, which may include factories, farms and caterers.
Starting salaries can be between £17,000 and £22,500 a year. With experience, earnings can rise to around £30,000. Managers may earn around £40,000 to £50,000.
Many employers will want you to have a degree or BTEC HND in a subject such as consumer studies, consumer product management, food and consumer management, food science or technology, psychology, marketing or statistics.
To get on to a degree you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) and two A levels. However, you should check with course providers because alternative qualifications may also be accepted.