DC Nielson Survey and Why I DON’T Believe the Results Mean Anything

I’m a data nerd.  This is what I’ve done for a long time in my life and that’s from everything concerning inventory when I was a retail jockey to managing and organizing tens of million of records while working in politics (which I currently do).  My knowledge of demographic data and where to get it lead me to read various other reports on the Nielsen survey data DC comics presented at ComicsPro this week with skepticism and eye rolling.

Here’s the results they presented (and gathered from those various reports):

  • New readers comprised just 5% of the survey
  • Female readers, which comprised about 8% of the readership in the last benchmark’s available from two decades ago, consisted of 7% of the survey
  • The number of readers 13-18, generally considered the age where you need to get new consumers, was 2%
  • The launch of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 galvanized the traditional fan base for superhero comic books: male readers, who were already—or have at one time been—comic book fans.
  • DC COMICS: THE NEW 52 appealed mainly to avid fans and lapsed readers. More than 70% of those surveyed categorized themselves as avid fans who visit the comic book store every week. More than a quarter of in-store consumers were lapsed readers. The survey indicates that 5% of those polled identified themselves as first-time, new readers.
  • More than 50% of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 readers were between the ages of 13 and 34. And more than 50% of in-store DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 consumers had an annual income of $60K or less. The data supports and arguably validates our philosophy of holding the line at $2.99 which DCE is committed to maintaining.
  • The majority of titles generated strong interest and likely reader retention.
  • Avid Fans purchased up to 20 titles out of the 52 titles.
  • Digital: of dual mode readers, digital is far from replacing print.
  •  Impulse buys: Up to four-in-ten respondents reported that a NEW 52 title they were interested in (at a physical store location) was out of stock. Nearly two-thirds made a spontaneous purchase.

This bullet point as reported by The Beat is the key piece of information:

  • The survey results are not a reflection of all comic book readers or the broader audience for graphic novels. This was a survey of consumers who specifically purchased DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 comic books, either in print or digital format.

This is the size of the sample they used, the survey conducted in comic shops (167), online (5,336) and through digital comic retailers (626).  So DC is staking their business on the results of an audience that was a total of just over 6,000 individuals.  That’s pathetic.

The survey, especially the online portion was pushed by fan sites and social networking only amplifying who our audiences are and getting the people in “the know” and paying attention to comics regularly.  Where was the outreach to those new casual readers?  Where is the attempt to find out why people didn’t purchase?  That’s the important information….

But here’s why it’s crap as a whole, with a few clicks and no effort you get an audience of over 300,000 individuals you can get demographic information on Facebook.  Where was the survey there?  626 people as far digital customers?  You can BUY that demographic data…..

For instance on Facebook the breakdown of male and female fans from the data set I found with no effort:

That took me five minutes….

What I see from those results is that DC failed in their job to truly galvanize the market.

  • They reported 7% of the readers were female, in a few clicks I showed almost 29% is potentially female
  • 5% new readers?  Wasn’t the point to try to get new readers?  70% are avid fans? So, all that work and it’s the same audience….

What I see presented is lazy statistics that doesn’t give any insight as to what occurred or what is occurring and a company who still is adrift at sea trying to figure out who their market truly is and how they can find new fans and customers.