How Netflix Cracks Consumer Moments-of-Truth

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.
Dave Decelle
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.’
‘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.’
‘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.
‘It’s not unusual for the consumer insights team to
be innovating on techniques.’
‘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 2015The 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.

(Ps. SAVE $100 when you register with codeTMRE15BL!) 

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 mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.