Marketing Research Marketing

Marketing Research: the Heavy but Reliable Tool

Producers and entertainment executives have been doing what they do for a very long time. As captains to a ship, their decisions and experience drive the success of a team. Although their experiences drive their decision-making, tools should be used to reduce the risk of their decisions.

Upon beginning the MBA program at Chapman University, professors and staff were consistent in identifying the “tools” that we, as MBAs, would utilize in future decision making. As I sat in a case discussion for a marketing research class, a professor made a direct link to marketing research as a tool in entertainment industry decision-making. I’d like to share this tool with MovieNomics.

Entertainment execs, like producers, are presented with multiple production options in the form of scripts, pitches, or even basic ideas. From these options, they make a decision as to what will be produced, having decided what has potential to be a successful production. Intuition drives many of these decisions; it’s a gut feeling that this will be the next big thing. But many times, these decisions are wrong… It’s a fortunate situation that a MBA then carries a toolbox, to reach in and grab a heavy but reliable gizmo called marketing research.

In my interning experience, I came to a point when my career interests thought, “What makes a movie sell?” Intuition will sometimes prove right, but this is a biased opinion that carries a load of risk behind it; risk of lost money, failed reputation, disappointing your team, and possibly ending your career. Therefore, that heavy but reliable tool comes in to find the cracks, fix what’s wrong, and essentially eliminate the risk of making a faulty decision.

As I pull out the ol’ textbook, the authors describe marketing research as “the process of designing, gathering, analyzing, and reporting information that may be used to solve a specific marketing problem.” To make the right decision, executives must have “objective, accurate, and timely information” and that’s where marketing research steps in. Marketing research forces managers to step outside of personal biases to understand how the public actually thinks, acts, and buys. Understanding these behaviors will help a producer, executive, or even a script reader make a decision as to what story will sell with minimal risk while providing data to support their conclusion.

My professor also made a point that even after research, a decision can be wrong (Coca-Cola C2 as an example). But marketing research allows you to provide numbers to back a decision that could have been worse without the proper information to make an educated decision. Therefore, as we continue to build ourselves up in this industry of entertainment, I encourage you to add marketing research as a tool in your toolbox.

Below are a list of entertainment marketing research tactics and resources for the entertainment entrepreneur. Build away!

Entertainment-specific Marketing Research Tactics:

  • Concept Testing
  • Positioning Studies
  • Title Testing
  • Test Screening
  • E-Scores/Popularity Polls
  • Advertising Tests
  • Tracking
  • Exit Studies

Market Research Resources:

  • Neilsen
  • Qualtircs

Free Resources for surveying:

  • Survey Monkey
  • Social Media (youtube views, Facebook likes, etc)


Market Research Books:

  • Marketing Research by Burns and Bush
  • Marketing to Moviegoers by Marich
  • So You Want to be a Producer by Turman
  • Open Wide: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession by Hayes and Bing
  • The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook by Bosko

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