My Dirty Little Marketing Research Secret…

by Josh Amidon

To be honest, this post is hard for me to write – I’m about to give you my number one marketing research dirty little secret. I like to think of myself as a smart guy, I watch all the 24 hour news networks – I can hold a conversation about pretty much any topic you throw at me. But the one place I turn to keep my finger on the pulse of what the world thinks and buys is PEOPLE, yes, as in PEOPLE Magazine.

I know, not exactly what you were thinking I was going to say.

Personally, I don’t really care that Kate Middleton found her first gray hair (ok, that’s a lie – I do care), but for about 30 years, more people turn to PEOPLE than any other pop-culture source and that speaks volumes about what the editors have got going on. Any product they promote or recommend instantly sells out, any celebrity they put on the cover is instantly promoted to the A list.

A tough thing for some small business owners to swallow is that it doesn’t really matter what they like or dislike, what matters is what your target market likes or dislikes. If your target market is any cross section of men and women, age 25-54, then PEOPLE is a gold mine of research for your target market.  (SIDENOTE: Let me take a second to defend my masculinity, PEOPLE is not a women’s magazine – 43% of their readers are men)

So, what we’re talking about here is research – honest, it’s research. Read (or at least scan) PEOPLE to:

Get a feel for what the majority of Americans want to fight, find, lose, gain, have, give or embrace.
See design and copy that is easy to scan, read and digest
Uncover story angles that could apply to your organization’s PR
Read and dissect the ads. They will tell you a lot about how multi-million dollar companies are promoting to their base.

If you already read PEOPLE, maybe you have a sense of what I’m talking about, if not, go to the grocery store and buy the latest issue and carve out an hour to go through the pages with this new view in mind. You might find some real nuggets. Plus, now you can be like me and tell your friends you only read PEOPLE for research purposes (I like to do my research while enjoying a glass of wine).

If you want to discuss this topic further, you can always reach me at or (315) 258-8780.