“Will it play in Peoria?” is asked in order to gauge whether a given product, person, promotional theme, or event will appeal to mainstream America; or across a broad range of demographic and psychographic groups. Hence, if a manufacturer develops a new finish – say a rustic concrete – the question “Will it play in Peoria?” is asking if it will be accepted “in the market.” Playing in Peoria is the fundamental question of research.
Why do you need to know if your marketing will “play in Peoria?” Well, first, because you want to put the odds in favor of your success. If, through research, you can have a clue that turning left instead or right would get you to your destination faster and safer, wouldn’t you do it? If through research you can figure out mailing a self-mailer rather than a personal letter would work better for your business, wouldn’t you do it?
Research is about finding out in advance if a particular method, behavior or product you are thinking about doing or specifying is something your market might want or “be open to.” Furthermore, if you can find out – in advance – that just tweaking your service by offering something you haven’t thought of before might assure a more successful business approach, wouldn’t you want to know it, and then do it?
Research can help you find these things out. Research is a secret weapon of marketers around the world (the next time you go into a department store, see if you can tell who the “secret shoppers” are because there are secret shoppers working that store, I assure you!). Sit on a park bench in a downtown area and open a book while you pretend to read. Instead, listen.
Listen to what people are saying as they walk past you…what they say on the bench next to you. LISTEN, because then you are doing research and you are being researched! People want to know your opinion about this, about that. In some back room, people are compiling this information in order to help marketers market better. At least, that’s what we are led to believe!