Monday, May 28, 2018

The purpose of any market research effort is to have an impact. Far too often research results do not have an impact and are Impact_eventbarely read and distributed. Our recent survey of Thoroughbred racing enthusiasts produced some very interesting results that I have enjoyed describing, analyzing, and publishing on Twitter and Facebook. And there is more to come. Some of you who participated in the survey have asked the question to the effect of "what good will it do?" A short update is in order.

Complete data tabulations of all survey questions as well as all additional comments (there were nearly 200 of these; some were essentially essays) have been made available to selected industry leaders. Jim Gagliano, president of The Jockey Club, remarked that the information will be helpful in their broad industry study that is currently underway. Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA, received the survey results with thanks. Ed Martin, president of RCI, was very appreciative and interested in the results.

That's not too bad and is really all one could hope for. But if you follow the industry on a regular basis you know that certain issues like illegal drugs, race-day medications and central leadership are percolating to the surface. And if you follow the industry on a regular basis you also know that issues percolate to the surface from time to time and little or nothing changes. Maybe it's just my own pollyanna notions, but this time it feels different. It feels like this many-tentacled and fragmented industry wants to do things right and do the right thing. I'm banking that real change is finally going to happen on several fronts. I'm also banking that these changes will be strategically shaped and informed by evidence-based research.

After reading all of the extra survey comments I was struck by how grateful many participants were for the opportunity to express their opinions. In addition to the possibility that the research results may inform high-level debate over a range of topics, there could be a collateral benefit: industry organizations may be inspired to measure stakeholder feedback more routinely and with more creativity.