The other day, I was enjoying a refreshing beverage with my wife, as we watched SportsCenter on the television (sounds terrific, I know). Lee Corso was dancing alongside a college mascot to the song and dance “Gangnam Style.” I said to my ladyfriend:  “Gangnam Style is EVERYWHERE!” To which she replied “What is Gangnam Style?”

“What?!? You’ve never heard of that?”

I explained to her that it was a Korean rap video that was taking the nation by storm. He was featured on Ellen, on The View and certainly on Good Morning America. The video is the #3 viewed video of all time on YouTube (soon to be #2) and is only several months old. Statistically, 1/12 of the world’s population has seen this video! How on earth could my wife have missed this?

We posted the inquiry on Facebook: “Matt just explained Gangnam Style to me. Am I officially the last person to know about this?”

Sample results:

“Um, no, you’re not the last because I just now had to go look it up... ” _Keely

“No, but my 16 yr old just did what is surely a fantastic demonstration.” _Carla

“I found out about a week ago, and I live in Afghanistan, so yeah, you’re the last to know.” _John

“Isn’t that the fabric with the small checkers on it?” _Bonnie

No, Bonnie, that’s Gingham style…

For all of you that haven’t seen yet, here is Gangnam Style:


The Gangnam Style dance is admittedly ridiculous. The man is doing a horse dance. My point is, I made the assumption that since the view count1 is roughly equivalent to 1/12 of the world population, everyone I knew had logically seen this video. Children in third-world countries have seen the video if my logic followed! Turns out, more of the Facebook respondents had never heard of this phenomenon than had. Additionally, I found out about it a month prior, when the video had over 100 million hits, and thought I was the last to know about it. We all know what happens when you assume…

So here are some steps you can take before you take the jump into assumption with your marketing efforts, do the basic forms of marketing research.

  • Do some interviews and qualitative research with smaller groups of respondents. Use this data for exploration, and hopefully with interviews and questionnaires, you may also get pertinent quotes from your customer base to use later.
  • Use simple tools like socialmention.com to gauge sentiment of your brand on social media channels. Also gauge the sentiment around a product you might be selling or a competitors brand mentions and sentiment.
  • Polling and survey of a wider customer base can help you know what channels to reach them on before assuming. You may assume your audience isn’t on social media or that mobile isn’t a good channel to reach certain demographics on, but a quick survey might prove you wrong. For example, a recent survey demonstrated that Direct Mail is thepreferred medium for many customers to be reached, “Despite the perception in the marketing industry that direct mail and telemarketing are less effective than digital channels2
  • Use the Little Data and the Big Data to gather valuable insights about demographics, lifestyle attributes, financial data and behavioral trends. And remember to test, test, test. Assumptions can be a very dangerous animal in marketing.

So, now you know about Gangnam Style next time your nephew or friend quizzes you about it. Don’t make assumptions about your audience without first talking the time to do a little digging.

And just in time for Halloween, here’s a lights display… Gangnam Style: