Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None is being praised for its funny and thoughtful examination of race, family and gender dynamics. It’s so good it inspired me to take a second look at his book about love and relationships, Modern Romance. Or rather, take a second listen, since I have the audio book as read (hilariously) by the author. It’s rare that rigorous market research yields such entertaining results!
Modern Romance, which Ansari co-authored with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, is meticulously researched and includes results from focus groups across the U.S., Tokyo, Paris and Qatar. Ansari and Klinenberg combed through numerous academic studies, polled users on Reddit, and even had audience members share their texts during Ansari’s standup routines. Among their findings about how the pursuit of romance has changed in the age of Match.com, Tinder, and texting:
- Online dating is $2.4 billion industry
- OKCupid is responsible for 40 thousand dates every day
- Users “swiping right” on Tinder make 12 million matches per day
- 38% of Americans who are “single and looking” have used an online-dating site
- Almost 25% of online daters have found a spouse or long-term partner online
- Despite all this, for the first time in history the typical American now spends more years single than married
Ansari and Klinenberg brought their findings to Hubspot’s Inbound conference, which Inc. magazine helpfully distilled into four lessons for marketers:
- Consider the background of the person you’re communicating with when determining the best way to get in touch. In the case of Modern Romance‘s subjects, whether they preferred a phone call or a text had a lot to do with their age. “If you need to reach out to customers or prospects about an emotional or sensitive subject, don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach,” writes Ilan Mochari.
- Having a lot of choices isn’t always a good thing. Not only is it harder to choose in the first place, but also people tend to second-guess that choice later. The sheer number of matches from which they had to choose paralyzed many of the online daters profiled in Modern Romance. “Your customers may want options, but you don’t have to overwhelm them,” says Mochari.
- Actions are more accurate than self-reporting when it comes to studying human behavior. As with one awkward text exchange an audience member revealed to Ansari onstage, people tend to forget or gloss over some of the more telling aspects of their own behavior. Observation is a useful tool for getting to the real truth.
- Adding “an element of levity or relaxation” to the research process helps with getting subjects to open up. Klinenberg was lucky to have well-liked comedian Ansari to help him gather data, but many market researchers have success just by providing a relaxed, friendly atmosphere for their focus groups. (We find that good snacks help, too!)
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that a keen and curious observer of human behavior like Aziz Ansari would have a lot to teach us about conducting our research. What’s been an unexpected source of insight for you? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @SayWhatcr.