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Business, Politics & Society

Anticipating What Consumers Want

Bob Iger

Lesson time 9:10 min

Bob gives his perspective on consumer data and why he believes you sometimes have to push it aside and go with your gut. He uses the films Black Panther and Captain Marvel to illustrate his point.

Bob Iger
Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the leadership skills and strategies he used to reimagine one of the world’s most beloved brands.
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- You get to decide what kind of King you are going to be. [MUSIC PLAYING] - The movies that we make, the stories that we tell are far more effective, are far more popular, have much more appeal when they best reflect the audience that we're trying to reach. And that means infusing the stories with not only diversity of characters, but a diversity of storytelling. Storytelling that has some relevance, that is relatable to people all over the world. And I think one of the strongest brand attributes of Disney is that the storytelling of ours is universal in appeal. It works for everyone. That was purposeful in Walt's day, and it's still purposeful and obvious today-- maybe even more so because the world that we are reaching, thanks to modern technology, is far more broad, far more diverse. And because of the power of technology and the ability for us to tell our stories to people just about every place in the world, it's very, very important that when we tell those stories, there is relevance in those stories to people in different places and of different cultures and different religions. And in order to do so, the pictures and the storytelling and the characters that we infuse in our stories, again, need to best reflect the world that exists today. [MUSIC PLAYING] When we studied the possibility of buying Marvel, one of the early things we discovered was that they had thousands of characters. There had been thousands of stories told about thousands of different superheroes. That led us to conclude that because the Marvel storytelling possibilities seemed almost limitless given the thousands of characters, that we should consider more diversity when it came to Marvel films and Marvel storytelling. And the discussion that arose was a discussion about films where the lead was a female superhero and the possibility of doing a film that featured all black superheroes. And we had a discussion immediately about "Black Panther" and a discussion about possibly doing "Captain Marvel." There was an assumption among many that a woman superhero as the lead of a Marvel film could not possibly be as successful as a film that had a male superhero as its lead. And there were examples of films over the years that were female-led that were not as successful as films with a male character. I think there was a reason for that, and that is that just maybe coincidentally the films that had been produced with women superheroes in the lead just weren't as good. I don't really believe that there was a lack of appeal. So it was our goal to make a Marvel film with a woman as the lead, but to make a great one. [MUSIC PLAYING] The same was true with a black superhero. There was a concern that a film comprised of black superheroes or black characters-- at least Marvel characters-- wouldn't necessarily travel well around the world and the investment wouldn't necessarily be wise. Because we'd be spending as much to make a fi...

Embrace risk, build resilience

In an era of disruption, former Disney CEO Bob Iger led one of the world’s most beloved brands to unprecedented success with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now, through case studies and lessons from 45 years in media, Bob teaches you how to evolve your business and career. Learn strategies for expanding a brand, leading with integrity, and making big moves—from risk management to the art of negotiation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great information. Got so many golden nuggets from this masterclass.

Very interesting to hear how large scale corporate buys are facilitated. Bob Iger a very smart savvy CEO. Always looking to grow the Disney Brand.

inspired and thrilled. especially when Iger talked about leadership and decision making.

Bob Iger hit ALL of the prescient points for those in or considering business. Easy to listen to, VERY believable and someone with the experience and veracity to give advice.


Sabrina Z.

Thank you Bob Iger for making Black Panther and Captain Marvel. You stepped outside of the box taking your research into considerations and going with your gut. Your actions speak loudly of the person you are to the core. It's as if you're channeling Walt Disney.

Nicholas C.

That's wisdom here. Trust your instincts and yourself, reach out to the people. Many books I've read of successful, they have great empathy in reaching out and being inclusive. I once got a job because I sat outside of a building for a few days, to see the type of customers that enter, and what they do.

Ellis T.

I think you could have an entire course on the types of insights from data analysis! I would appreciate elaboration on this, maybe an encore episode? :p

Ignatius D.

Risk is everything. I can not help but ponder the level of risk Iger can absorb now vs when they were rebuilding the company decades ago. For a smaller, lesser know brand, creativity could make or break them with one shot. So, my take away here is build the brand and continue to evaluate the level of risk the business/brand can absorb before jumping in head first with enabling "creativity" to be a leading edge strategy.

A fellow student

Very interestingly, I heard the similar saying by the CEO of a Chinese beverage company Wahaha, a company whose name is not so funny to Coca Cola and Pepsi as its sales record has beaten both companies combined in China over 10 years ago. Wahaha's CEO said he never trusted market research reports more than himself because he constantly goes into convenience stores in vase amount of regions in China to talk to every average Joes about their lives and opinions. Get to know your customers as a customer yourself is vital to the businesses as it breaks the boundary between the seller and the buyer, which would greatly reduce the distortion in the business perceptions.

Lucia C.

Yes, reinforcing the idea that decisions need to be data-informed and not data-driven. There's value in triangulating experience, observations, accounts, and yes, hard data. It's still research, however. Still departing from a question that you want to answer: "What do customers need/want?" what informs that decision should just not boil down to numbers.

William M.

It seems the biggest overall change under Eisner and Iger (beyond the economic recovery) is the move from american-centered company to international. Watching the Disney+ imagineering series, it seems as if the launch of disneyland in the 50s was very much about america, serving and american audience and displaying the past and future of the USA. Hell, they even had Richard Nixon over to commemorate the launch of their monorail.

Harry C.

You know, one thing that worries me is that Bob was talking about how there was a significant amount of resistance to the idea of introducing diversity into Marvel with Black Panther and Captain Marvel; what does that mean for Disney? If the natural inclination of the teams at Disney is to resist this kind of thinking and Bob actually had to overrule the others, what will happen when he's gone? This also introduces an interesting question about one's identity in a business and to what extent a leader should connect his or her identity to the identity of the business itself.

Val M.

I love how Bob's experience bears out that if he had relied solely on previously existing data, he may not have taken the opportunities for a new trajectory, with much bigger dividends. Ultimately, being a wise, risk-taker seems like one of his biggest gifts. One that we have all benefited tremendously from.

David S.

Trust your gut and don't rely on Data - the opposite of what everyone else would say. Interesting!