Bringing the Consumer to Life On Stage

Bringing the Consumer to Life On Stage


As the longest-running symposium for the European home entertainment industry, IHS Screen Digest's PEVE conference has kept Europe's top media executives on the pulse of the market for over 15 years. With the market’s recent, rapid shift toward digital distribution, conference organizers asked Vital Findings to develop an innovative format for bringing the "voice of the consumer" to conference delegates to help them understand how their audience was changing. Based on our expertise in the UK market, Vital Findings developed six profiles of the types of consumers driving the march to digital media. Our team then brought these profiles to life -- quite literally -- by recruiting London residents to be featured in a "live focus group" panel on stage. Moderated by Vital Findings Managing Director Jason Kramer and Jonathan Beardsworth of the Digital Entertainment Group Europe, the panel engaged and informed the top studio, retail, and digital executives in attendance by giving them a chance to hear directly from consumers as well as ask their own questions. Widely considered a highlight of the annual conference, Vital Findings will continue running the panel in 2011.


With DVD in decline, Blu-ray still in its infancy, and streaming and downloading growing quickly, PEVE organizers knew that they needed to add a consumer dimension to their conference experience. PEVE’s presentations and panels featuring top entertainment experts and executives would give conference delegates critical data about the European home entertainment industry, but consumer behavior was changing more rapidly than this data could capture; live discussions with the consumers themselves were needed to fill in the missing gaps in information.

But the typical conference "consumer panel" often has several drawbacks: a recruitment limited to friends or relatives of the conference organizers, a focus on extreme opinion leaders, and a general lack of overall perspective that would help conference attendees contextualize consumer reactions. IHS Screen Digest presented Vital Findings with a challenge: how could they inject a consumer perspective into the PEVE conference but avoid the traps other conferences have faced? To accomplish this objective, the team at Vital Findings knew we would need to combine the rigorous recruiting and screening of qualitative market research with a panel designed to encourage audience and consumer interaction.


Vital Findings needed to assemble the right consumer mix representative of the behaviors driving change in the UK media market, ensure that each respondent was the right fit to appear onstage, and design a panel format that provided context for the consumers' comments.

First, the team identified six key consumer segments, from tech-forward digital users to DVD loyalists, who could provide a well-rounded view of the UK media landscape. In order to ensure the best recruit, we developed profiles for each segment based on their attitudes toward digital and physical media, usage of key digital technologies, and media usage habits.

The next step was to rigorously recruit the panelists. But Vital Findings had to go beyond merely confirming that respondents fell into one of the target consumer segments; we also personally re-screened each potential recruit to ensure that he or she was comfortable speaking up in front of a large audience. Further, we asked each respondent to complete a week-long diary documenting his or her media habits. This diary provided us with data and photographs that could be used during the onstage session to help put each consumer’s opinions into context.

Qualitative Research

Finding the right consumers was critical to this assignment, but the real art came from developing a panel format that allowed the respondents to feel comfortable opening up on stage and also engaged executives to ask direct questions. Co-moderating the session, Vital Findings Managing Director Jason Kramer began the panel by asking questions designed to reveal the key attributes behind the segment each consumer was representing. When the floor opened up, industry executives could direct their question to the right consumer panelist, and Vital Findings could help probe further by introducing facts and pictures from the consumers' diary.


Sam Andrews, Editor of the leading European home entertainment business publication Cue Entertainment, opined that “the consumer panel at PEVE 2010 was heady stuff”, and selected the panel as the publication’s feature article for the issue following the conference. IHS Screen Digest documented the event for a wider audience by including an article about it in their monthly industry newsletter (and included pictures from the panelists' homework, one of only a handful of times they've done so in the history of the publication).

The panel allowed conference delegates – many of whom do not participate in research – an opportunity to interact directly with consumers while keeping consumer feedback in context. As the final panel on the last day of the conference, the consumer group was also able to keep the executives engaged through the end of the conference -- no small feat -- delighting the conference organizers.


Whether it is the US, UK, Japan, or Brazil, Vital Findings’ understanding of market trends allows us to work seamlessly across all borders. Our ability to go beyond the basics of research and to provide the tools to help clients visualize, internalize, and evangelize research findings has implications for many projects. A few examples:

  • Conference industry panels – from technology to soap, Vital Findings can create a panel to shed light on the trends in any consumer product category.
  • Consumer immersions – Vital Findings can create informal or formal consumer panels to interface with R&D or marketing teams who wish to better understand their customers’ wants and needs. Example: Apple may want to know, what do customers really think about our flagship store in New York City?
  • Brand panels – with consumer sentiment constantly changing, marketers might want to return to key consumers over time for brand testing. Example: Nike could use focus groups to develop a brand strategy and then invite certain respondents back to give key decision-makers feedback on the campaign’s execution
Qualitative Research


  • Live Focus Group
  • International Research
  • European Home Entertainment Industry
  • Innovative Recruiting Techniques
  • Conference Presentations

Innovative Methods

“Consumer Profiles”:
Vital Findings began the project by using our expertise in the UK market to generate profiles of consumers at the forefront of change. These profiles allowed us to frame our recruit across attitudes, behaviors, and demographics.

Robust Recruitment:
Vital Findings employed vigorous recruiting techniques to identify and secure a representative selection of consumers who would be comfortable speaking publicly as conference panelists.

Contextualization of Insights:
Knowing that information is meaningless in a vacuum, Vital Findings asked each prospective panelist to keep a media diary and document their home entertainment habits with photographs. This context was presented during the panel to help place consumers' opinions into perspective.

Bringing the Consumer to Life:
Our team literally brought the UK consumer to life for the media executives at the conference, and we created a forum for meaningful interaction between executives and consumers.