No matter how you feel about the brand, the Walt Disney Company has probably impacted you in some way, shape or form at some point in your life.

You have probably watched a Disney movie, a Disney TV show or stream movies and shows on Disney+. You may have been to a Disney theme park or resort at some point in your life. You may watch ESPN regularly and you may play a video game produced by Disney.

Since Disney reaches audiences around the world, you most likely have been impacted by the company at some point in time.

Part of Disney’s global success is due to their marketing strategy and philosophy which involves conducting various types of market research for their various types of audiences.

In-Person and Online Surveys at Theme Parks

Walt Disney World and other Disney theme parks and resorts are very effective and efficient when it comes to conducting guest surveys.

Disney hires people specifically for conducting the surveys in-person at the theme parks. These data collectors wear uniformed shirts with a “Walt Disney World Research” patch on them (or the title of whichever Disney theme park they are stationed at) along with official Disney nametags so you as a theme park guest can be confident knowing you are sharing your opinions with legitimate Disney employees.

These employees are trained not to badger theme park guests or bug them about wanting to participate in Disney’s surveys. As a whole, Disney recognizes the fact that guests’ will think less of their Disney experience if they are bugged about providing their opinions about it.

So, while you are enjoying your Disney theme park vacation, these survey conductors are scattered throughout the parks, casually and politely asking guests if they want to share their opinions about their Disney experience.

If guests agree to share their opinions, the survey conductors ask them a handful of qualifying questions. Some of these qualifying questions can be on the subject of trip length, what the guests have enjoyed about their trip, what they have disliked about their trip, what they wish they would be getting out of the trip, etc.

If the guests meet the qualifying criteria, the conductor will ask them for their email address so Disney can send them a more in-depth online survey after their trip has concluded.

Unlike some places online, Disney promises to only send one survey to the guest one time. Disney will also never use the guest’s email address again to recruit the guest for additional research. The guest will not receive any nagging text messages to participate in surveys as well and your receipts from Disney will not be as long as your arm with promotions for completing surveys and things of that nature.

Collecting feedback on the guests’ experience via in-person surveys in the park and follow-up online surveys helps Disney improve on things like park cleanliness, park food, park efficiency, attraction options and things of that nature.

Disney understands that conducting surveys solely online and collecting information via online Analytics platforms can only get a brand so far. It is very important to have face-to-face interactions at some point during the market research process to help foster good communication and good communication channels between guest/user and brand.

Focus Groups

One of the more genius forms of market research that Disney conducts is its focus groups. The first step to conducting a focus group, though, is figuring out a target audience.

Disney has broken its audience down into four large categories. One audience category is for adolescents and young adults. The second audience category is for children 5 years old or younger. The third audience category is for children 6 to 8 years old. The fourth audience category is for children 9 to 12 years old.

Creating focus groups then depends on what type of product or form of entertainment the brand wants to create.

When Disney goes to create content or a product for the audience of children 5 years old or younger, the brand turns to the experts:  preschoolers and kindergarteners themselves.

For example, Disney was in the process of creating a TV series called Sofia the First and it needed feedback on its characters and concepts in the show. Disney Studios in Los Angeles then partnered with local pre-schools and primary schools to conduct meet and greets (AKA focus groups) with groups of students in the targeted age range to get their opinions on the episodes of the series after viewing them.

Conducting these focus groups allowed the Disney reps to observe and note real-time observations on the students’ reactions and comments in order for Disney to make improvements in the series for future episodes. These types of observations from real-world market research give Disney a better picture of what its targeted audiences enjoy or are looking for in entertainment that business forecasting and “meta” intelligence could never provide.

In return for providing their insights, the Disney reps gave the students Disney Junior (TV channel) stickers and the schools the reps visited received $100 per visit.

The Disney Institute

Disney is so enthralled with how it strategically conducts its market research and implements it into its marketing and business plans that it created The Disney Institute to help other brands and organizations succeed in the same ways.

To receive good feedback while conducting market research, companies need to take the initial steps in their operations to ensure good customer experiences happen. In turn, The Disney Institute teaches classes on how brands can exemplify good leadership which can then turn into a genuinely happy workforce. A happy workforce will then lead to great customer service being provided to guests and/or customers.

The entire process is very strict, but it allows the brand to leave nothing up to chance so guests and/or customers are nearly guaranteed to have the best possible customer experience while interacting with the brand. These types of good experiences will then be reflected in the market research data that is collected by the brands.

The Disney Institute has helped major brands across the country and around the world such as Chevrolet, Humana, the NFL, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Florida’s Athletic Department, Volvo, the Baltimore Ravens, the Orlando Magic, FIFA, Häagen-Dazs and many other major brands and organizations.

Market research plays a major role in the forms of entertainment we consume, whether that is by watching a movie or TV show or channel or a physical place we go to visit with our family and friends. The Walt Disney Company is just one example of a major brand that uses market research to continuously improve to help give its guests and customers as good of a brand experience as possible each time they come into contact with the brand.