Movies as market research?

Last Sunday I saw the movie movie Maruyama, the middle schooler as part of CinemAsia film festival. A funny movie about a 14-year old boy going through your regular teenage angst in his very individual way. But what also struck me afterwards when I was preparing for a meeting I had this morning was:

“This would be perfect market research material.”

The movie focuses on life in a regular Tokyo neighbourhood, with many scenes taking place inside the different apartments of the characters in the story. And if you are a Dutch business interested in selling your interior design products that is one of the things you want to know: what do Japanese houses look like? Are they colourful? What type of interiors do Japanese people like? What kind of items do they use?

The meeting I was preparing for was part of some market research being conducted for a Dutch company. The company is eyeing Japan as a potential new market for them, and the students who had been asked to take on this research phase had a long list of questions for me. This list included the above questions on the look and feel of Japanese houses to find out if the items this company designs would potentially fit in a Japanese interior.

Of course, the best way to find out more about this is to go to Japan, see Japanese houses, find out yourself how people live and what they surround themselves with. But, that is not always the easiest thing to do.

The next best thing? Watching movies.

And, it’s a lot more fun than going through stacks of market research reports.

Who’d have thought watching movies could be a productive way of finding out more about a potential new market.

Admittedly, not every movie works as well for this purpose. But if you look for films that show what real life is like in a certain place, like Tokyo, you can find plenty of good movies that give a bit of insight into an average apartment in urban Japan. And that, of course, counts for any place you are researching.

PS, looking for some good suggestions for Japan? Try some of Koreeda‘s beautiful movies.