Consumer Insights Director Talks Research Innovation
By Marc Dresner, Senior Editor, IIR
It’s a testament to the fragility of success in changing times that just 15 years ago Blockbuster Video declined an opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million.
(The former, of course, now rests in the business boneyard; the latter is worth about $33 billion today.)
Without exploring Blockbuster’s missteps in detail, it’s pretty clear that they missed a thing or two about the market and the consumer that Netflix did not.
Indeed, the best defense against hubris in this era of flux may be an organization’s appetite and aptitude for insights. Fortunately for Netflix, neither seems to be a problem.
According to Consumer Insights Director Dave Decelle, Netflix has more than tripled its consumer insights function to a team of 20 since he was hired a few years ago.
As one of four centers of intelligence, Decelle says his group—the only one that speaks directly with the consumer—has had to pretty quickly carve out an identity for itself in the organization.
“Netflix is very Big-Data-centric and A/B-testing-centric, so it's been an interesting challenge to understand where consumer insights fit into that,” Decelle told the Research Insighter.
Not surprisingly, Decelle notes they’ve found a valuable role in delivering the why behind all of the behavioral and other data Netflix collects, but he adds “we’re really careful about not taking what consumers say at face value.”
“We try to steer clear of just listening superficially to what consumers tell us,” Decelle said. “We try to identify and understand the true underlying motivators that are driving that response.”
This has led Decelle and his colleagues to pursue some interesting solutions, methodologically.
“Netflix is a very innovative culture and so it’s not unusual for even the consumer insights team to be innovating on techniques,” Decelle noted.
In this interview for the Research Insighter podcast series, Dave Decelle takes us inside consumer research at Netflix and shares some lessons learned, including:
• How to get at the moment-of-truth via in-the-moment techniques
• Why recall is unreliable
• How to engage internal clients through “opportunistic enthnos” and offsite safaris…and much more!
Editor’s note: Dave Decelle will be speaking at TMRE 2015—The Market Research Event—now in its 13th year as the largest, most comprehensive research conference in the world taking place November 2-4 in Orlando.
For information or to register, please visit TheMarketResearchEvent.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/INTERVIEWER
Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @mdrezz.