Party Like A Research-star!

As we settle into the new year, Eve Lenkowsky reflects on how a little holiday-season market research could have saved on a lot of leftover pizza…

If you came to visit me at my place this week, you might begin to think I have an alcohol problem. And a cookie hoarding problem. And a really big purple carpet stain problem.

That’s because, this year, my boyfriend Mike and I decided it would be fun for us to host a New Year’s Eve party for our friends. About a month before the party, he made up his guest list, and I made up mine, and then we sent out an e-mail invitation and waited for the responses to flow in. People responded either yes, no, or maybe (on the evite, the choices were ‘I’ll drink to that,’ ‘My glass is empty,’ or ‘I might raise a glass’) and then, a few days before the party, we began to hunker down and prepare for the big event. At least 16 people were coming, and we were going to give them a good time, gosh darn-it!

Mike and I had recently been guests at an amazing Halloween house party held by some friends, so we decided to pull out all the stops too. We ran to our local liquor store and stocked up on enough alcohol to get us through another Prohibition. We went to the party supply store and came home with tons of silly party hats & headbands, glow sticks, confetti, and plastic ‘Happy New Year-inscribed’ eating ware. We filled up two shopping carts at the supermarket and ordered 6 pies of pizza on the big night (anticipating that each person could be hungry enough to eat 3 slices: hence 16 people x 3 slices = 48 slices, then 48 slices/8 slices per pizza pie = 6 pizza pies). We also rearranged all of our furniture, laundered our extra blankets at the dry cleaners, and vacuumed to high heaven in order to accommodate however number of friends that would decide to sleep over. We truly could not estimate this, but I had visions of people sleeping head to toe in the hallways and on the floor next to my humming refrigerator.

Fortunately, I know how to be the hostess with the most-ess and Mike sure can entertain, so things pretty much went off without a hitch. People joked around with each other, made new friends, played a bunch of games, listened to some great tunes, watched the Times Square ball drop on t.v., and ate and drank in a celebratory manner. HOWEVER, there were a few things that we did not anticipate and they all centered around the same theme – we went overboard!

For example, even though we’d bought two types of cookies, three more of our friends brought even more cookies to the party. Also, it turned out that many of our friends had gone to dinner before they arrived, so only 3 out of the 6 pizza pies were even opened – completely counter to our fears that we would run out. Our booze supply overflowethed to the point that we were begging our friends to take home bottles of alcohol at the end of the night. Lastly, while the party hats and noisemakers were certainly popular, I’d guess only about 2/3 of our guests actually were into them.

Mike says, ‘Too much booze!’

Too many cookies and cutlery!

Not to mention, too many hats!

So while we were cleaning up after the party the next day, it dawned on me that we could have saved a lot of strategizing, money, preparation, and clean-up had I used some of the tactics I use as a market researcher here at B2B International. I write questionnaires every day; why don’t I sent out a quick survey to our friends next time I host a party?? That way, I won’t have to guess what they want – wasting time, money, and resources – and can get even closer to making my friends happy and anticipating their behavior by asking them directly. In fact, I believe my survey will incorporate some of the following questions and go a little something like this:


    Transport & People

  1. Are you bringing any friends/significant others to the party? If so, how many people and whom?
  2. Are you in a relationship, single and satisfied, or single and searching to meet someone at the party?
  3. How are you getting to the party?
  4. At the end of the night, do you a) plan to drive home b) plan to sleep over c) plan for someone else to drive you home? d) plan to have someone else drive you to his/her home? (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more)
  5. Booze & Food

  6. Do you plan on drinking during the party?
  7. Approximately how many alcoholic drinks do you consume during a party?
  8. What is your favorite alcoholic drink?
  9. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?
  10. Is there any particular brand of alcohol you recommend I stock?
  11. Do you have the propensity to spill your drink all over the place? (in which case, you are uninvited)
  12. What are your favorite party snacks?
  13. Would you prefer to eat dinner on your own before the party, or would you like to eat dinner at the party?
  14. How many slices of pizza do you typically eat? (shhh! if you couldn’t guess, dinner will be pizza—surprise!)
  15. Any food allergies?
  16. Any pet allergies?
  17. Any freakish one-in-a-million allergies?
  18. Will you be bringing anything to the party, such as food, booze, or games? (hint hint)
  19. Fun & Games

  20. Do you like playing icebreaker games at parties or just want to socialize on your own?
  21. Recommend any good party games?
  22. If there is a theme for the party, would you be interested in dressing up?
  23. What songs do I just have to add to my party music mix to get you up and dancing?
  24. If we were going to watch a movie to wind down, what genre would you like to watch (i.e. comedy, horror, sappy romance)?
  25. What do you think makes a great party? What would be your ideal night?

So that’s my little survey draft. You can do the same thing for your next party and write up a simple survey (but leave the more intensive business-to-business market research to the professionals). Feel free to borrow questions from my list, or come up with some of your own – whatever you think is relevant to your situation. Follow the tactics of the wisest business leaders and marketing managers who, even though they understand their industry really well, know it’s always worth it to ask the opinions of current and potential customers directly. Even if you think you know your friends and guests really well, they probably know themselves better. An added bonus: your friends will be glad you asked these questions because it will help them prepare for the big day themselves!

Well, that’s all the insight I’ve got for today. Now I’m going to try for a second time to scrub this wine stain out of my carpet while Mike tries to pawn off some vodka gimlets on our next door neighbors.


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