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What movies can teach us about market research

NOVEMBER 21, 2011 – Some advertising professionals may think market research only happens through online panels and surveys, but it can actually take many other forms and be applied across a variety of industries.

The recently released film Moneyball offers one example of how research can do more than just gauge consumer sentiment, as Beth Rounds writes for Research Magazine. She uses the movie’s protagonist, Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, as someone who saw a challenge – a losing baseball team with a low budget – and used statistics and metrics instead of big paychecks to gather a talented group of players.

Rather than pretending as if the situation weren’t problematic, he took action and defied the norm, Rounds says. He relied on hard facts when making recruiting decisions, instead of leaning on “experience and gut feel” to sway his choice.

Rounds argues that Beane’s example offers a valuable lesson for market researchers, and she suggests that those in the industry should work harder to understand how their sector is transforming in order to create a strategy for the future and to break out of the status quo with new ideas and innovations.

Additionally, Rounds thinks market researchers need to manage “by the numbers” and focus more on the tactics that increase revenue. Finding new talent that can handle the changes in the sector is also vital, she says, and continually developing skills that will ensure customer satisfaction needs to be a high priority.

“Business is about making intelligent choices and now more than ever we need to challenge conventional wisdom in order to chart a new way forward,” she concludes. “Beane chose an unknown and risky path, and in the end he changed his organization, himself and the industry.”

But how can market researchers break the mold? According to Kaihan Krippendorff, blogging for Fast Company, there’s no shame in looking to the past to find a solution for the future – marketing professionals should ask themselves “what new (or old) reason” can be presented to consumers to convince them to view a product in a different light.

By being courageous – don’t be afraid of the untested, Krippendorff advises – and relentlessly innovative, marketers and brands alike can break away from the pack and continue to drive up profits with fresh or refreshed ideas.