As VP of Consumer Insights, Adrien Lanusse helps Netflix understand how viewers across the world experience its service. Lanusse sat with dscout recently to share his passion for curiosity and empathy, his own multicultural background, and his understanding of the threads that connect viewers and consumers around the world.
dscout: What drew you to a career centered on researching people?
Adrien Lanusse: I’ve always been fascinated by finding the threads that connect people and delineating the commonalities and differences in what drives our behaviors. It’s more challenging and exciting to find the thread versus directly asking people what they think.
Global market research is a focus for Netflix. What are some of your favorite ways to find those threads across cultures?
I like to look at different sources of insight and then compare different cultures. For example, when we launched Netflix in Latin America, we knew that Latin Americans watch a lot of entertainment and have relatively larger households. The concept of unlimited viewing for one low fixed price appealed to this audience.
But when we later launched in Germany, we knew that Germans didn’t watch as much entertainment as Latin Americans. In fact, many consumers in Germany traditionally felt a sense of guilt around watching television. The idea of “all you can watch for one low price” was not appealing in this market, and we realized that being able to “control what you watch and when you watch” would be more relevant.
Can you trace the origins of your interest in multicultural research?
My own multicultural identity has a strong influence on my passion for my work. My dad was a shepherd in a rural part of France before he came to the U.S., and my mom was from Mexico. I grew up recognizing that a lot of the products we used at home were very different from the products other kids at school used. However, I always felt closer to other children of immigrants, regardless of where they came from. And I became incredibly curious about the distinct influences of culture, society, and individual traits on behavior.
I was lucky to find an internship many years ago with a company that focused on understanding multicultural consumers. I spent 20 years heading multicultural research and strategy on the agency side. Then about six years ago, I had the chance to take the skills I gained in understanding cross-cultural markets to Netflix at a time when Netflix was just beginning its global expansion.
I became incredibly curious about the distinct influences of culture, society, and individual traits on behavior.
In the area of multicultural research, has your work shifted over time?
In the early 90s, the corporate clients that came to our consultancy were on the forefront of understanding multicultural consumers in America. They were mostly interested in demystifying these niche markets and developing advertising and communications strategies.
The 2000 census demonstrating the strong growth of multicultural markets was a wake-up call for much of corporate America, and our work shifted from “how do we communicate with” to “how do we develop a real strategy for” this market.
It’s fascinating to see the continued evolution of multicultural research today. It’s not only about targeting these markets, but also understanding multicultural sensibilities to better target a product or service to a broader market. Take for example the Netflix series “Narcos.” It’s made by a French production company, filmed in Colombia, stars a Brazilian, and has become popular in many countries around the world.
What’s the next frontier for market research?
The next element is seeing how these different threads come together. As the world is getting smaller, we must go beyond simply comparing one country to another to understand underlying threads, which is more powerful. What elements of what we observe are cultural? What elements are based on societal drivers? And what are individual factors?
The underlying needs that are served by storytelling and entertainment are universal. Whether it’s to connect with others, to feel a sense of excitement or suspense, to relax and unwind, or to feel inspired, the drivers are the same from Canada to Cambodia. However, content preferences may differ. For example, people in parts of the world where society puts more restrictions on free speech may yearn more for movies or stories that provide a change of perspective.
Multicultural and global research isn’t just about finding differences between people anymore; it’s about finding those human threads that connect around the world and serving them.
Kari Dean McCarthy is a seasoned brand communications strategist, award-winning filmmaker, and gnocchi expert.