Saturday 17 October 2015

The Nature & Purpose of Research in the Creative Media Industries

Research is a very important factor to include in pre-production, no matter what the production is, in the media industry. Whether the final product is going to be a film, article, advert, video game, or something else, lots of research should be undertaken before production is begun. Three different types of research should be undertaken - audience research, market research, and production research.

By conducting audience research (collecting and analysing information about the target audience for a specific product or sector of the media industry), the creator(s) of a media product can target their audience more effectively, therefore leading to a more successful product. Audience research is important for both the overall product and its advertising campaign. For example, the video game Guitar Hero has a very defined target audience - fans of rock music and playing musical instruments. Therefore, for the new Guitar Hero game, it seemed to make sense to create it in first person, so that it feels like the player is actually performing to a huge live audience. This is because research into the target audience had been done before the video game and its advertising campaign was made, and the researchers found that the majority of fans of the series were interested in live performance.

Market research is also an invaluable form of research that must be undertaken when planning a product or service, and it should also be performed periodically after the product/service has been released. Market research implements audience research, as it is part of working out what the products' target audience is and what its current audience is (if it is a product that has already been released). Market research also enables the producers to set reasonable targets for their product/service, allowing them to identify opportunities for growth, and possibly the introduction of new products/services. When conducting market research, both primary and secondary research can be used. Primary research refers to the monitoring of sales and quality of your own product. Secondary research refers to research into competitors' products, of which the data can be compared with your own products, allowing producers to understand what they can do to get the competitive edge and unique selling point. An example of market research being carried out in the media industry is the film company Pixar. Before releasing a film, Pixar's market researchers would investigate the current market to find out what is popular with Pixar's general target audience - young children and families. It would also research Pixar's main competitors such as Dreamworks to see what it is about their products that makes them popular. This enables Pixar to use this information to their advantage and gain back the popularity it may lose to Dreamworks after a release.

Product research is the third of the three types of important research that should be conducted. Product research enables you to understand what it is that your audience wants from the product or service they are offering, allowing you to tailor your product/service to your audience needs/wants, and also keep an edge up against the competition. Product research should be produced repeatedly throughout the production in order to make sure that your production company stays up to date with current trends. An example of product research being used in the media industry is in the planning stages for an advertising campaign for a product, like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. The producers of Dove understood that their industry was a very competitive one, and they needed a unique selling point and something to make their product stand out. So their hard-hitting and inspiring Real Beauty Sketches advert went viral very quickly, due to the fact that it connected with its target audience (women aged 20-50) on the fact that in most cases, women were very insecure about their appearances, and the advert encouraged women to think differently. The success of this campaign was due to the exceptional product research - the researchers knew exactly what the audience wanted - a product that would make them feel less insecure - and gave it to them.

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