Saturday, 15 December 2012

Market Research at the Movies

The Hobbit in 3D - market research experience

My wife was pretty annoyed today at being given in a very confusing manner pens and sheets of paper for a market research company looking to evaluate different consumer reactions to the 3D and 2D versions of the new Hobbit movie, released this week.  Because I teach market research at Royal Holloway and use the movie industry as the context for one seminar, I was, naturally, keen to participate and hoped to bring home a blank copy for more detailed analysis.  (Students never far from my thoughts !)

Gollum: The MOST engaging eyes, brilliant CGI
Motivated, encouraged and plain nagged to arrange a family visit by our 10 year older son, we assume a function of peer inspired buzz was behind this behaviour.  Some class mates were going on premier evening after school, we felt this was a bit too much, given the 2:45 run time. 

We could not book opening weekend seats in flat screen mode, generally I do not like 3D because I have to put glasses over my own glasses and mostly because the movement scenes make me feel sick, without moving in my chair it is just the feeling that a roller coaster gives me.  This blog is not a movie review site (check out IMDb if you lust after movie news) so, suffice to say this was a great family movie experience, we all loved it. 

I am always putting my own MBA into action and whilst I completed the first form (I was given a single sided form, the crucial motivator email data capture for free stuff was missing) I found myself in that terribly academic manner tutting at some of the question formulation and several of the response box options did not let me share my opinions effectively. 

New Zealand scenery a prime draw

I felt pity for the coding team (mostly tick box closed responses were required) when trying to analyse the consumers hand written descriptions of the three best scenes.  I was surprised at the numbers of questions that seemed to offer up comments on length of the movie and the action scenes.  (I love the scenery of New Zealand that is an integral part of this film franchise).

Whilst chatting with the market researcher, waiting for toilet formalities to be completed, he gave me permission to take some blank forms (ethically I was in the clear) and he also offered the different colour forms (exactly the same questions, just printed on different coloured paper).  Proof that engaging in conversation with strangers can bring benefits.  It is clear that in addition to the internal bench marking (including questions asking if we would by DVDs and Blue Rays) that would perhaps give an indication of the commercial success of the movie, perhaps the most important research objective was to measure the difference between customer satisfaction across the two and three dimension formats.  The reading I have done on this suggests that the jury is still out on whether 3D is the winning format.  I do not plan on buying a 3D TV any time soon.

Innovative Air New Zealand strenthen beauty visit us credentials
Wellington Airport boasts movie associations
The campus MBAs  are now off on a well earned Christmas break, heads buzzing with ideas for what their dissertation topic might be.

One candidate is going to look at the brand of his country.  I think it is interesting to note how brand New Zealand is being show cased thanks to Kiwi director Peter Jackson's choice of is home country as the back drop to this interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkein's writing. 

Air New Zealand (home market size: 4 million) have a strong record in developing creative advertising concepts that have an enduring appeal that often has traction in the world of social media, for example this video.  Safety video or viral communications asset ?

Country of Origin (CoO) effect is an important brand marketing concept that Royal Holloway MBA students are likely to cover.  A simple image search shows a fully integrated marketing campaign (IMC) in action around this movie, with South Islands main airport (Wellington) investing in three dimensional models of Hobbit characters to clearly identify itself as the gateway to Hobbit country.  Even the Kiwi post office looks likely to cash in on Hobbit mania with its range of promotional stamps featuring key characters.  I applaud brand New Zealand for cleverly exploiting this movie franchise.