What is a Product Analyst? A Beginner’s Guide

Author headshot for CareerFoundry blog contributor Kinzal Jalan.

Does working with data to create better products that make customers happy interest you? Do you have a knack for understanding customer behaviors and correlating them with product features?

Then, you might want to explore being a product analyst. 

Lately, product analysis is turning into a popular career choice of late. Manufacturers of both physical and digital products increasingly depend on product analysts to develop new products and enhance existing ones.

If you choose to be a product analyst, you’ll be essentially tracking and monitoring a product through its life cycle. And you’ll do a lot more than that too. So, let’s learn more about this exciting career option, shall we?

Read on to know more about:

  1. What does a product analyst do?
  2. Product Analyst vs. Product Manager vs. Business Analyst: What’s the difference?
  3. What are the skills you need to possess as a product analyst?
  4. What is the average product analyst’s salary?
  5. How to become a product analyst
  6. Product analyst FAQs

1. What does a product analyst do?

As product management professionals, product analysts are specialized in crunching data and monitoring usage patterns, making informed recommendations that lead to better products.

Product analysis is a discipline focused on creating valuable products by peering through data-driven insights.

The role involves suggesting product improvements at various points during the product life cycle and helping decision-makers to implement fundamental improvements to existing products.

Here are some of the core responsibilities you’ll be expected to bear as a product analyst:

Oversee product performance 

One of your primary responsibilities will be to ensure that the product functions as it was initially conceived.

Hence, you will have to identify critical trends and patterns related to product performance and correlate them with sales figures and customer feedback. You may have to use business intelligence software programs to gain access to product performance data, sales figures, etc. 

Understand what your customers want

Understanding how customers use a product is critical to improving it. Hence, as a product analyst, you’ll have to be prepared to interview customers, ask them to participate in surveys, and analyze the results to understand macro-level and granular insights about product performance.

In the process, you may use different research methods, such as focus groups, polling, and observation, to understand specific issues that customers may face. Knowing how to create survey forms and using tools like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) can be very useful. 

Tie data with product performance  

Once you’ve collected data, your job will require you to tie it with product performance.

It’s a critical step to assess if further improvements lead to competitive advantage, especially in existing competitors’ products. To do that, you’ll need to liaise with the IT department, product development team, and others to check if customer issues can be rectified. 

Get the message across to the right people 

You also need to explain key findings to senior management and other product managers to justify your suggestions. For this, you can use various charts, tables, and visuals to present data neatly to key decision-makers in the company. 

Here, you must do this only once you’ve understood what customers want. Knowing that is possible from their feedback and any survey results you obtain in the context of product performance as described in the previous step. 

2. Product analyst vs product manager vs business analyst: What’s the difference?

You may have come across these terms in various job advertisements and may have wondered how they’re different from each other. Product analysts, product managers, and business analysts have different roles and often work together and help each other to ensure the product achieves its market goals.

Let’s make their distinction simple for you in this table: 

A table comparing the roles Product Analyst, Product Manager, and Business Analyst.

3. What skills do you need to possess as a product analyst? 

If you plan to become a product analyst, there are some essential skills you’ll need to be prepared to acquire. Let’s look at each of them and understand why they are essential. 

Basic financial and marketing skills

Although you may not need domain-specific economic skills, you must still understand how the market works.

You should be able to understand demand and supply, conduct competition analysis, understand market trends, and use these skills to contextualize your product. These skills will help you make better decisions about adding or removing features to a particular product. 

Conduct research and write reports

Market research is an essential component of product analysis. Hence, you should be familiar with using popular market research tools such as Qualaroo, Ubersuggest by Neil Patel, SurveyMonkey, TypeForm, and others.

You should also have a working knowledge of using SPSS and other statistical tools to crunch data and the ability to translate those insights into coherent and relevant reports. Ensure you have access to NielsenIQ and Pew Research Center, and use the data within to contextualize your research reports. 

Data analysis skills

You should be able to work with large datasets comfortably and deserve insights. There are multiple tools to help you do that, ranging from customer relationship management (CRM) tools to other marketing tools.

Some of the techniques you need to know well are cohort analysis, A/B testing, heat mapping, funnel analysis, user survey, and session replay. Knowledge of these will help you to quantify observable consumer behavior while using products. Based on the insights you derive, you can then make robust recommendations. 

Technical and product management skills

A few necessary technical skills you’ll need are knowledge of programming languages like Structured Query Language (SQL) to extract information, NoSQL (non-relational or non-SQL) skills to work with unstructured data, using statistical tools like SPSS, along with other computer skills. 

You’ll also need product management skills to track and monitor a product across its lifecycle. This means you must be aware of designing a product, developing it, and distributing it. Being acquainted with Scrum methodology can be a great strength, especially in environments where software development is central. 

Interpersonal skills

As a product analyst, you’ll have to work with different departments and communicate consumer feedback in a manner that ultimately improves product features. Hence, you’ll need to have excellent communication and presentation skills to be able to work with various teams and individuals. 

This will help you find creative solutions and narrate them well to decision-makers. Other interpersonal skills you should have include being personable, motivated, and able to collaborate between teams and individuals. 

Now, let’s move over to take a look at how this profession can pay off.

4. What is the average product analyst’s salary?

Product analysts are well-paid. In the U.S., product analysts can expect an average salary of $84,625. This may go up to $95,318 for those with experience.

In the U.K., the average base pay for a product analyst is £51,925 per year, whereas in France, it’s €54,141. If you plan to work in Australia, you can expect to make AUD 103,302 on average per annum, whereas, in India, product analysts take home INR 1.1 million per year.

Now that you know the role, skills, and payoff, let’s discover how you can become a product analyst. 

5. How to become a product analyst

As long as you demonstrate a keen interest in understanding consumer needs and improving products to meet various demands, your doors to being a product analyst are open. Many product analyst roles do not have specific education requirements. However, you may need a bachelor’s degree in business, management, economics, mathematics, or another related field. 

As the role is where product management and data analytics meet, a common way of preparing for the role these days is via bootcamps and learning programs. Have a look at your existing transferable skills and background first, to see which area you need more training in.

Do you have an education in mathematics and some experience in data, but feel like the product side is where you need to improve? Then consider a product management program to fill out that skillset and build product analyst experience.

Maybe you’ve found yourself working in product in the past as a product manager, owner, or a project manager, and need to work on your knowledge of working with data? In that case it’s worthwhile to look into a data analytics course to get a solid grasp of what’s required.

Additionally, you’ll need to gain experience in areas like business analysis, systems analysis, or similar roles. Knowledge in product and user analysis, feature flagging and testing, product development, project management, and effective communication are usually recommended to secure a decent take-home package.

6. Final thoughts

Product analysts are in great demand across industry verticals and are well paid professionals. This renders becoming a product analyst a promising and fulfilling career choice. Though not a very technical-oriented role, it does require you to have impressive analytical skills. 

So, you’ll have to be prepared to use various tools to track product performance, interview, survey consumers, and convincingly present your findings to improve product performance. As you learn to do this well, you can surely expect fulfilment, career advancement, and growth.

If you like the resources we discussed here, or are interested in product roles in general, CareerFoundry’s free product management short course should help you get started on your awareness about building and launching products. If you think it’s the analyst area you need more experience in, then ease yourself into it with our 5-day data analytics short course.

If you’d like to read more on the subject of product management instead, check out these articles:

7. Product analyst FAQs

Is product analyst a technical role?

Yes, partly. Although you will be required to crunch data and figures and use SQL and NoSQL to do that, you will also need strong interpersonal and market research skills. Hence, the role is holistic, requiring multiple skills we’ve listed above. 

Is a data analyst the same as a product analyst?

No. A data analyst analyzes all kinds of data that may be unrelated to the product. On the other hand, a product analyst tracks and monitors all types of product data, from design to delivery and continues to conduct market research, etc., to understand consumer needs. Although both work with data, their roles are vastly different. 

Does a product analyst do coding?

Not really. Product analysts use various data collection tools and process data to derive consumer and product performance insights. They use their communication and presentation skills to help product managers and developers to understand the market gap the product faces.

What You Should Do Now

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  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online product manager events with industry experts, or check out CareerFoundry graduate Farley’s product management portfolio project.

  3. Become a qualified product manager in 3-6 months—backed by the CareerFoundry job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering a partial scholarship worth up to $1,365 off on all of our career-change programs to the first 100 students who apply 🎉 Book your application call and secure your spot now!

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