OPINION25 January 2011

‘Research kills creativity,’ says man responsible for Jedward

Music mogul Simon Cowell hates research, apparently. Which is strange, seeing as how his hit shows X Factor and American Idol are like the NPD research process writ large.

“I can’t bear research,” says music mogul Simon Cowell (reports Contact Music). “Research just kills creativity because people lie in research or they say things they think the person wants to hear, or they overthink it.”

Cowell is right to be wary of phenomena such as groupthink and post-rationalisation, though it galls a bit to see a man who’s made a ton of money through the release of cover versions blaming other people for the death of creativity.

We might also point out that his two wildly successful TV talent show properties, The X Factor (UK) and American Idol (US), are like NPD research writ large, wherein a host of potential hit ‘products’ are repeatedly tested on the public over a period of several months until the most popular ‘concept’ emerges.

The only difference is, the public actually pay to take part in Cowell’s research. For shame.

@RESEARCH LIVE

5 Comments

10 years ago

I would say this is more 'Wisdom of Crowds' than NPD research. I note your comment - people pay to take part - do we see an emerging business model?

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10 years ago

People pay to participate because they make it fun. Too often research is about 'taking' information, thus why we often end up paying to take it. Giving something back throughh communities and gamification could develop a new business model.

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10 years ago

He's got a point. A lot of research is situation specific: how you feel at that time, and does not necessarily reflect 'true' responses when faced with 'real' circumstances (or conditions if in a controlled environment). It doesn't kill creativity though. At least a consensus view can be formed and brands can act accordingly.

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10 years ago

I'm wary of all phenoma

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10 years ago

X-Factor is like the NPD research process, in that the process of taking part and being asked to consider alternatives distorts respondents' perceptions of what they like and don't like. It's a big influence exercise, that makes use (knowingly or otherwise) of many well-known influencing techniques. So, X-Factor is, in a sense, sugging (using research to sell) just with its target population as its sample. It's revealing that, even with such a self-fulfilling model, sometimes the artists' ultimate success is limited to one track or one album. Of course, X-Factor makes money at every stage, including getting respondents to pay to take part in the "research"... genius! Each week is like a live test of buying the artist's music, where respondents actually do make a small purchase to indicate their preference. This is likely to be more reliable than the 'loss-aversion free' approach taken in non-Cowell-based NPD research.

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