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Cultivating Innovative Employees

Colleen Mendez, Director of Research at FremantleMedia

— March 6, 2017 — Business
FremantleMedia is a global content company that has been involved in creating and producing many popular TV shows, including The Price is Right and The X Factor. Trend Hunter recently spoke to Colleen Mendez from FremantleMedia, who works for the company as the Director of Research and Insights.

How does your team generate great ideas and do you have certain rituals to make creativity happen?

Our creativity ritual is in and of itself un-ritualistic. We never tackle every research project the same way. We do stick to our tried and true research methods, but we always ask ourselves how we can accomplish each project to best meet the needs of our producers and television executives. Once receiving a new research project, we listen carefully to the needs and objectives and try to think a few steps ahead – adding in extra questions that we think may be valuable to our production teams. We try to play out every scenario and think of every question that our producers may have down the line in order to ask more detailed questions to our survey and focus group respondents.

How do you identify trends and what resources does your team use to spot trends and insights?

We look at domestic and global trends from a few different perspectives: from a ratings perspective, a program enjoyment perspective, and also from a consumer lifestyle perspective. We’re always staying on top of what genres are appealing to viewers across the world and how they differ by territory. We look at new technology adoption and read a ton about what’s important in the lives of consumers. From a general perspective, it keeps us amazingly informed about the world, but on a more company-wide level it helps our producers understand their viewers on a deeper level. One idea I had last year was to inspire our Development Department by helping them to create new shows around current trends. For example, one trend that came out from last year’s report was female empowerment.

Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced innovation at your company?

Well, we can actually look into our own industry in a critical and constructive way. Inspiration comes from naturally watching others and seeing what works for them and what doesn’t. We are better researchers because we are always willing to think of new ideas and study other companies to see what they are doing well. Last year was a big change for our department and it was due to challenging the status quo. Learning from competitors and research suppliers and making our department more innovative has allowed us to do better work.

What are some examples of things you can do to create a culture of innovation?

One of the best ways to create innovation is to put faith in employees. FremantleMedia provides a wonderful example of an innovative culture – it’s part of our DNA – and that culture of innovation has been passed along to each member of the company. I’m really proud that FremantleMedia allows people to come up with new ideas, respects those ideas, and then aides employees in achieving said goal. We have a ‘What’s Trending?’ Board in the main kitchen where employees can write about new trends or topics of interest. We also have a summit where employees can come up with new ideas for TV shows and present them to our Head of Development and also to our CEO’s.

What do you think your industry will look like in the next 5-10 years?

Consumers are connected all the time, so we'll be looking more at how we can research them in their natural environment and how we can use those research learnings to not just our benefit, but also to the benefit of consumers. I think the market research industry will be moving a lot more towards mobile surveys – especially ones that can gauge an immediate reaction after buying a product or watching a new TV show. With our need to want things quickly, I think companies are going to want feedback immediately at their fingertips.

I also think the future will place a bigger focus on social media research. We all know that social is very valuable – not only does it help connect people with each other, but it also allows customers to become brand advocates. Social media research companies are constantly improving the way they measure social interaction online and I think they are going to start seeing bigger pressure to improve their methodology and measurement practices over the next few years.
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