Dave & The DVD

In the U.S., we’ve been running a month long community with 25 Californians, where we wanted to bring an ethnographic approach to a mixed qualitative and quantitative methodology.  It’s been a fascinating process as we’ve created 150 data points (5 questions sent at 5pm every day) on these 25 residents, ranging from what they normally eat for lunch, their religious beliefs, what they thought about the Mueller report, where they accessed news about the Notre-Dame fire, whether they watched the Game of Thrones season opener, which sporting teams they support, medications taken and so much more.

So on Day 29, when we asked them to upload the contents of their letterbox so we could peak further into their lives, we couldn’t believe when we saw a Netflix DVD … an actual DVD.  Surely ‘Dave’ was having a laugh with us at the end of our relationship with him. But we looked back at what we had learnt about ’Dave’ over the month (and our hypotheses in bold as we got to know him) and things started to make more sense.

  • When the Notre-Dame fire happened, he was getting his news about it from Talk Radio – we would have to explain what radio is to our younger members in the community
  • Of all the music genres we asked if he listened to, he was one of the 3 that nominated jazz – we’re not being ageist but have the data to support an older demographic preference
  • His ideal meal to order when going out for dinner was steak and baked potatoes with all the fixins – look, we like our red meat as well but all the fixins was the clue on this day
  • He likes a drink but has never taken a recreational drug in his life – we dug deeper, it was beer and whisky
  • He wanted the Governor of California to lower taxes as the number one priority – consistent with the others but he did mention that he had trouble saving cash which might have been the catalyst
  • When asked to nominate words that his friends would use to describe him, he nominated ‘dependable’ ‘stable’ and ‘conservative’ – DVD’s are dependable machines, well, they were when we used them
  • If someone was to play him in a movie, he thought it would be Paul Giamatti – that gave us his visual identity
  • And on Day 8 when we asked about social media usage, he told us “ I don’t use social media in general because I have no need for it. Regarding Facebook, I find it the perfect example of the modern-day version of the ‘pitchfork and torches’ crowd.  It has a leftist bias and I want nothing to do with it” – so he might be taking our survey online but maybe the Internet isn’t his thing

As researchers, it’s our role and responsibility to build insight around who ‘Dave’ is and what the profile of a Netflix DVD consumer looks like – so does that paint a picture of why a Netflix DVD landed in his Californian letterbox?  Maybe, but at The Interpreters, we like to dig deeper.

So did you know while Netflix had 6.2 million DVD-by-mail subscribers in 2006, in 2019, its 2.7 million subscribers in the U.S (including Dave).  A decline but still a customer base.  And while it’s small baked potatoes compared to the streaming customers, it’s still making a profit.

We asked ‘Dave’ why he’s one of the 2.7 million and he outlined the benefits pretty succinctly to us – it’s cheaper, it has more range on offer and he’s more than happy to trust his DVD over WiFi and using up valuable data.

So, what we learnt over the course of the month gave us the context that we needed to justify what was in ‘Dave’s’ letterbox but the power of the methodology demonstrated the hypotheses were right.  Wait until we introduce you to Derek, Linda, Pascha and Earl.

By Paul Dixon

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