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A day in the life of a senior retail analyst

Have you ever wondered what skills you need to become a retail analyst in the food and grocery industry?

About this article

Sarah Coleman, senior retail analyst at IGD, talks us through what her job is like, how she got to where she is today and what she’s learnt along the way.

Time at company: 15 months
Time in current role:15 months (although my role has developed over that time)
Who do you report to: Head of retail insight

What does a retail analyst do?

The retail analyst jobs at IGD are really varied, that’s what I like about what I do!

It’s essentially a combination of writing content for our Retail Analysis website, project work for customers and getting out and meeting people in the industry.

Some of us also get involved in IGD’s events so, for example, I worked on building the programme for our Convenience Summit this year, which included meeting and briefing all the speakers.

I also deliver a couple of the open workshops here at IGD, including the new ‘Effective Channel Management’ one day course.

How did you become a retail analyst?

I joined IGD about 15 months ago as a retail analyst. I’ve always worked in the FMCG industry and am very passionate (and nosey) about how people shop for their groceries.

By and large the retail analysts in the team have experience of working in the food industry – be that operational or having come from another agency. They bring that experience to IGD and build on it through our research and networking with the industry.

What sort of roles have you had in the past?

My background is in insight, both from working in a client-side insight team and working for insight agencies.

I started my career at Nielsen as an account executive working with various food clients, then moved to Unilever where I spent several years working on ice cream, including a stint in the global head office in Rotterdam. When I came back to the UK I moved to the slightly less glamorous world of deodorants! After that I was with what is now Kantar Worldpanel for nine years in total, working to help manufacturing and retailer clients use data to understand their business issues.

What type of person is suited to the retail analyst role?

Generally, retail analysts are into facts and attention to detail is of course paramount when you’re publishing information.

As I said before, the role is really varied and so it’s good to have people with different skills and experience to bring different perspectives to the work we produce.

Sarah Coleman

What do you enjoy about being a retail analyst?

Personally I enjoy presenting, so I enjoy being out with customers, sharing our insight and seeing them take the IGD insight and apply the learnings to the work that they are doing.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a retail analyst?

The key thing is a passion for the grocery industry and I would say you do need to have some research experience; perhaps you’re currently working at a retailer, manufacturer or supplier and fancy applying those skills in a different environment.

One of IGD’s core strengths is the relationships we have with the food industry and therefore it helps if you’re a good networker and enjoy that interaction with people.

Lastly, don’t forget we are an international team and so there are opportunities to travel if that is something that appeals to you.


Retail analyst is just one of many roles that we have here at IGD. Why not check out our careers page to see if there are any opportunities for you? Or if you are looking to upskill your commercial teams included analysts, take a look at our IGD Training calendar - we offer commercial training workshops to suit many roles across the industry, from category managers, to retailers, to supply chain operators. 

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